While many Americans are still reeling from discovering they may be part of the 47% that Willard “Mitt” Romney has written off as people he won’t even try to reach, others of us are still delving into some of the stuff his sidekick Paul Ryan put into his nonsensical “budget,” the one that defies basic arithmetic. First up is Social Security.
Under Ryan’s plan, any year that Social Security is not in 75-year balance, Congress must make immediate changes. The effect of that would to be treating Social Security as just another line item in the budget, subject to reduction at any time. Put another way, Ryan wants to eliminate the trust fund philosophy that has underpinned Social Security from its inception.
Some people aren’t aware that the Social Security law has already been changed to make anyone born in 1960 or later wait until they are 67 to retire. Those people will also only get 70% of their full pension if they retire early. Those changes in the law was made during the Reagan Administration.
Romney and Ryan also favor the most draconian Social Security suggestions made by the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s report on debt reduction. Those recommendations would cut benefits for 60% of “very low” earners who make an average wage of about $11,000 or less. The earliest full retirement age would go from 67 to 69 and the earliest age for reduced benefits to 64. Cost of living increases would be cut by $108 billion over 10 years. The benefit formula would be flattened, resulting in Social Security being turned into a “welfare-style program.”
Right now, the average American has seen first-hand the devastation 401(k) pensions can suffer when we have a financial collapse like the recent one that was caused by greed and deregulation. Romney-Ryan wants to turn Social Security from the only guaranteed pension plan millions of Americans have into just another federal program subject to the whims of the House Appropriations Committee. That committee voted out and the Republican House passed HR 1, which would have immediately cut administrative money to Social Security by $1.7 billion, closing Social Security offices for weeks at a time, furloughing thousands of workers and preventing the processing of any new claims.
President Obama has repeatedly stated that Social Security is not part of the deficit problem we have. It can be fixed as easily as it was in the 1980’s if we ever get bipartisanship back in Washington. In contrast, the Romney-Ryan budget is designed to destroy Social Security as we know it, just as that same budget hopes to destroy Medicare as we know it.
The Romney-Ryan budget’s position on Social Security and Medicare is like that general’s comment in Vietnam, the one who said he had to destroy a village in order to save it from the communists. The extremists in the Republican Party have always lusted after the destruction of Social Security and Medicare. Romney-Ryan simply makes their extremist views part of the Republican mainstream.