Rep. Schakowsky: Keep Social Security Out of Deficit Discussion

Via Social Security Media Watch Project:

By Caroline Dobuzinskis

Illinois House Representative and member of President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Commission Jan Schakowsky has long been an advocate of Social Security and its importance to Americans. On a press call on Monday hosted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), she emphasized the increasing importance of the program to retirees who are facing a downward economy.

“With the dissolution of private pension plans, Social Security has been even more important for retirement benefit plans,” Rep. Schakowsky told reporters on the call. “Right now we don’t want to cut the benefits or lower the [retirement] age.”

In March, Rep. Schakowsky came to the defense of Social Security after Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor commented on NPR that “these programs [for seniors] cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”

On Monday’s call, Rep. Schawkowsky also focused on her proposed Fairness in Taxation Act that would enact new tax brackets for very high income earners—starting at salaries of $1 million—raising the caps on their taxes.  She pointed out that Social Security should not be a part of any deficit-reduction strategy. Continue reading “Rep. Schakowsky: Keep Social Security Out of Deficit Discussion”

Social Security is not responsible for federal deficits

From Ten Reasons Not to Cut Social Security Benefits:

Federal budget deficits currently are unusually high, but Social Security bears no responsibility for today’s shortfalls. Keep in mind that the federal government was experiencing budget surpluses at the end of the 1990s, but those quickly were transformed into deficits early in the 2000s because of large tax cuts and increased governmental spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as homeland security.

The nation’s fiscal situation worsened when the recent economic downturn caused federal revenues to collapse along with taxable incomes and profits, greatly widening budget deficits. Because Social Security continued to collect hundreds of billions of dollars more from payroll taxes than it spent on benefits throughout the decade, however, the program actually reduced overall federal budget deficits far below what they otherwise would have been.

As the graph above shows, the dominant cause of the projected long-term debt problem is not Social Security, nor short-term deficit spending to aid economic recovery, but rather the expectation that health care costs will continue to rise much more rapidly than overall inflation. Projections show that combined Medicare and Medicaid outlays for the federal government will double, from about 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) today to about 10 percent by 2030.

Social Security’s expected growth is expected to be far more modest, and much more manageable, gradually rising from the same 5 percent of GDP today to about 6 percent by 2030, as the Baby Boom generation retires.

Throughout that period, the revenues dedicated to the program from payroll taxes and commitments from its large and growing trust funds will be more than sufficient to pay benefits in full until around 2037. At that point, if nothing is done, benefits would have to decline by about a fifth. But even if the Trust Fund is exhausted in 2037, payroll taxes alone at the current level would cover benefits averaging $19,300 ‐‐ about $1,600 more than today’s typical retiree receives (after inflation).

Watch: Protect and Defend Social Security NOW!

On March 2nd, Seattle activists joined the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in an informational picket to educate the public on the dire consequences of proposed Republican budget cuts to the Social Security Administration. We must stop these cuts to protect millions of old, young and disabled citizens who earned these benefits.

Call Congress now at 888-360-6518.

Help protect Social Security on March 2nd!

Budget cuts proposed by House Republicans will gut funding to the SSA – delaying benefits, decreasing efficiency and reducing fraud investigations.

Join us on March 2nd, 2011 to protect and preserve Social Security!

Where: 4th and Cherry (downtown), Seattle, WA
When: March 2nd, 12 noon


9594 Mickleberry Rd. NW, Silverdale, WA from
12 – 1 p.m.

Washingtonians will lose access to Social Security benefits under House GOP proposal

How the GOP Budget Bill Would Affect Social Security in Washington state

Hidden away in this year’s budget package, Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing a $1.7 billion cut to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If carried out, the budget cut will not only undermine Social Security’s promise to pay every American the benefits they have earned – it will also make Social Security less efficient and more prone to fraud.

The SSA is an extremely efficient program, with administrative costs at or below 1% of total expenditures. Funded at current levels, the organization has a number of very positive accomplishments under its belt: reduced average wait time for an appeal decision from 535 days in 2008 to 373 days in 2011; maintained service levels for beneficiaries despite a sharp increase in initial applications; and saved billions of dollars by identifying those no longer eligible for benefits.

But the budget proposal by House Republicans would likely reverse those gains, stall projects aimed at achieving further efficiency to offset the large influx of baby boomers, and cause up to four additional weeks of SSA office closures in 2011.

To determine the effects of the GOP plan on each state, the Democratic Staff of the House Ways and Means Committee put together a state-by-state analysis of the expected impacts. In Washington state alone, they estimate:

  • 17,400 applications for Social Security benefits (retirement, disability, and survivor) will not be processed;
  • 4,908 disabled workers will not be able to appeal their benefit denials;
  • 18,895 babies won’t be assigned Social Security numbers;
  • 67,479 people will go to the Social Security office for help and find the lights off and the doors locked;
  • 44,560 people will call the Social Security office and get no answer.

Social Security benefits provide a critical lifeline to more than 1 million retired, disabled and widowed Washingtonians and their families. It helps keep our state economy rolling, injecting more than $1.1 billion in 2009 alone. Cutting the Social Security budget won’t save any money – it will result in longer wait times, fewer audits for fraud, and higher costs in the long-run.

Contact your representative and urge them to vote against the cut. Click here to find your representative’s contact information.

You can see the full report on the proposed cuts, including impacts in other states, here.