House Republicans Take Aim for Social Security, Promise Better Future

by Micah J. Fleck

The House Republicans are finally talking about seriously reforming Social Security. Again. But this time, it might not actually just be all talk, seeing as how the president-elect is also a Republican and there is likely to be less push-and-pull negotiations on these matters.

According to The Huffington Post:

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, released a plan Thursday to reform Social Security that would drastically reduce benefits. The bill would make the program less of a universal earned benefit and more of a means-tested safety net that aims only to provide basic support to the poorest retirees and disabled workers.

In order to close Social Security’s long-term funding gap, Johnson would make Social Security’s benefit formula less generous for all but the lowest earners, rapidly raise the retirement age and reduce the annual cost-of-living adjustment, among other changes designed to save money.

Johnson also proposes changes that would cost the program money, like an increased minimum benefit for the poorest retirees ― provided they have a long history of covered employment ― and the elimination of income taxes on Social Security.

Under Johnson’s plan, a middle-class 65-year-old claiming benefits in 2030 ― one with average annual earnings of about $49,000 over 30 years of covered employment ― would experience a 17 percent benefit cut relative to what the program currently promises them, according to the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary. A 65-year-old with the same earnings history claiming benefits in 2050 would experience a 28 percent benefit cut compared to current law.

Call us crazy, but this sounds doable. And it is perhaps the only way SS can be saved for future generations, which Johnson emphasizes is another concern of his:

“For years I’ve talked about the need to fix Social Security so that our children and grandchildren can count on it to be there for them just like it’s there for today’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Johnson said in a statement introducing the bill.  “My commonsense plan is the start of a fact-based conversation about how we do just that. I urge my colleagues to also put pen to paper and offer their ideas about how they would save Social Security for generations to come.”

We will, as always, watch the politicians like hawks to see if they actually stick to their promises, but if they do in this case, it might just be the best thing for Social Security that could possibly happen.


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