The future of Social Security is in the spotlight as election day nears

Democrats accuse Republicans of wanting to cut the program. Republicans argue that’s not true.
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Social Security card(DC Bureau)
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 12:08 PM AKDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the final days wind down to the election, Democrats are spotlighting the issue of Social Security as President Joe Biden accuses Republicans of wanting to cut the program. Republicans counter they only seek to update social security to keep it from bankruptcy.

“They (Republicans) will crash the economy next year by threatening the full faith and credit of the United States for the first time in our history putting the United States in default unless we yield to their demand to cut Social Security and Medicare,” said the president as he promised to not ‘yield’ to any attempt to cut the program.

However, Republicans like Rep. Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia) call the president’s warning a ‘scare tactic.’

“These are scare tactics the Democrats often use. Those are entitlement programs. They’re not going to change. There are some changes or should we say policy changes we can make so it’s sustainable for the future for people who are not yet on it. But for people who are on it right now don’t believe the scare tactics,” he said.

Republicans as a whole have not endorsed any one plan for Social Security nationwide.

In June, the Republican Study Committee released a proposed budget that addressed the issue. Starting on page 79, it suggests no changes for current retirees but it does suggest changes in the payment formula for future retirees. It also suggests increasing the retirement age gradually from 67 to 70, attributing that increase to a boost in life expectancy. The budget too seeks to provide incentives for people to keep working.

Read the Republican Study Committee report here.

In media interviews, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has recently said that Republicans do not want to slash Social Security. However, he has previously proposed a plan that would reevaluate all federal legislation including social security every five years. That plan also called for Congress to issue a report every year on what they plan to do when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), who was recently criticized for his stance on Social Security by former President Barack Obama, has responded on the campaign trail by reaffirming that Republicans do not want to cut Social Security. However, he has suggested in the past that federal programs, including Social Security, be approved by Congress every year instead of being automatically renewed.

Meanwhile, in the House Republicans recent ‘Commitment to America’ report an objective is outlined to “save and strengthen” Social Security.

Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans over 65 receive social security payments. But as birthrates drop nationwide and costs go up the leaders for the Social Security Administration have said money could run short by the year 2035 if nothing changes.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) is among the Democratic lawmakers who have long called for enhancements to Social Security. He expressed skepticism that Republicans want to make the program last as he believes, “they want to cut, privatize and end Social Security.”

However, he does agree Congress needs to act to make the program sustainable longterm. He has authored his own plan to update the program called “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust.” In part, it calls for a benefit boost to adjust payments to cost-of-living and keep seniors above the poverty line. It also calls for a tax rate change to fund the program in order to collect more from high-income earners. Larson said currently payroll taxes are not collected on an individual’s wages over $147,000. His proposal would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000.

“When you talk about a kitchen table issue when you talk about something they discuss because they get that monthly check and everybody knows it and they ought to know that Congress isn’t doing their job. And they ought to make sure when they go to the polls that they’re electing people that are going to get the job done for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, there is some good news for people already living on Social Security.

Next year, nearly 70 million Americans will see about $145 more a month, because of an 8.7% cost of living adjustment.

The Social Security Act was officially signed into law in 1935.