Archive | 2:08 am

And We’re Off…

10 Jan
On the very first day of the new Congress, the new Republican majority took steps that could very well damage the foundations of Social Security. In addition to providing benefits to retired senior citizens, Social Security  also includes a disability-insurance program for those who want to work but can’t due to health reasons. And sometimes when the disability-insurance program runs short on funds, Congress transfers money from elsewhere in the Social Security system to prevent benefit cuts. The transfers are needed every now and then to keep the money flowing to the proper recipients depending upon those who come and go within the system. These transfers have never been considered out of the ordinary and in fact it has been done by Congress 11 times over the last seven decades. That’s an average of once every 6 years or so…
Apparently the system’s trustees are expecting the Social Security disability-insurance program to face a shortfall next year, and are expecting Congress to do what previous Congresses have always done… but…What the new (and improved?) Republican policy says is that transfers must from now on “improve the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds.”  Experts say that because of the new and rather vague language used, it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts.” Because a “transfer” of funds doesn’t necessarily mean an “improvement” of funds…does it?
Republicans are saying that this new language is meant to “improve the overall financial health” of the Social Security system but it may just also provide a loop hole (and who in Congress doesn’t love a loop hole?) to clear the way for proposed Social Security cuts, which would be consistent with congressional Republicans’ goals based on their recent past attempts to make cuts, changes and reductions within the Social Security System.
So, If the disability-insurance program is starved of funds then people will inevitably have to face Social Security reductions of one kind or another. Already multi-employer pensions funds, which cover about 10 million U.S. workers, have seen reductions in pension benefits proposed and approved by Congress in last December’s budget spending bill. And if you are a member of a public pension program than you know that a recent and popular government tactic has been to starve your pension of funds by simply withholding promised and negotiated contributions to your fund.
This government policy of trying to break our retirement programs and then declaring them broken and in need of fixing is not only very disturbing, but most definitely immoral, and most probably illegal. But the bigger and more disturbing question that I have is…why? Why this attack on the working poor and middle classes and their promised retirement incomes? First job displacement in the recent past, then wage stagnation in the present, and now proposed reductions in our future pensions?
We already know that our Congressmen and women are bought and sold by big monied interests and as a result are doing their bidding but what are they up to now? Have they been heavily investing in Nursing Home Futures? Or are the banks pushing for a future of more “Reverse Mortgages” because selling the underwater kind just didn’t bring in enough ill gotten gains?
So what’s the deal? Does anyone out there know? I’d like to hear your thoughts because this new Congress is off and running and I sincerely hope we are not all trampled in the process…and then cast off because we are not “financially healthy”…or rather broken…as in broke.
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