Don’t mess with Social Security funding

The political left is often naive and the political right is often just stupid. This Senator displays a serious lack of historical knowledge, or knowledge of the structure of Social Security and an even worse understanding of human beings.

“Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a stalwart Senate ally of former President Trump, is facing fresh uncertainty in his race for reelection after telling a podcast last week that Social Security and Medicare should be classified as discretionary spending, with Congress authorized to set their budgets every year.”

Source: Johnson steps on political land mine with Social Security, Medicare comments | The Hill

Social Security was set up as it is with the express purpose of keeping funding out of the hands of politicians and the budget process. The fact that Congress has failed to assure adequate funding, enacted unfunded benefit changes and ignored the advice of the trustees for decades, amply demonstrates the wisdom of keeping Social Security out of the budget process.

4 comments

  1. It is quite a stretch to expect a Senator in 2022 to pay homage to the words of FDR back in the 1930’s. So I am only surprised that he would talk openly about funding while knowing all the special interest groups are waiting to pounce.

    Congress can do as it pleases with Social Security. The old age voting block is formidable and that helps keeping it running as is. Will it stay as it stands today? I don’t know, time will tell.

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  2. Senator Johnson is either a genus or an idiot. Of course I can’t tell if his statement is taken out of context.

    I imagine every year Congress will vote a budget bill, at the last minute, that screws over seniors like they do to our service men and women. Then every few years they make a big deal of giving the military pay raises.

    Now imagine if every two years, Congress votes to give seniors more money and entitlements in time for congressional elections. Something that the incumbents can list on their campaign fliers for helping seniors. Pure genius.

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  3. It’s not like the funding source for Social Security and Medicare Part A come purely from payroll taxes or that other funding sources are in play.

    You say: “… Social Security was set up as it is with the express purpose of keeping funding out of the hands of politicians and the budget process. The fact that Congress has failed to assure adequate funding, enacted unfunded benefit changes and ignored the advice of the trustees for decades, amply demonstrates the wisdom of keeping Social Security out of the budget process. …”

    So, how is Congressional control over Social Security funding (FICA primarily) diferent than Congressional control over the federal budget – other than obvious “process” and structural differences? Congress is in charge! Congress is in charge of both!

    Congress has a long history of crossing this “dedicated funding” line. I don’t agree with the Wisconsin Senator, but, keep in mind that Social Security is an entitlement. Congress could end it tomorrow. There is no contract between and among Americans and their government, or the Social Security Administration or CMS. Importantly, he apparently didn’t suggest that adding new funding sources would change the benefit formula (or if he did, why didn’t you highlight that as well). .

    Remember when PPACA (Health Reform) was touted as adding years to Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund? This is directly from the Obama White House Talking Points on PPACA: “Raised the Medicare hospital insurance tax and imposed a new tax on net investment income for high income taxpayers in order to strengthen the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.” Those monies, of course, were used to fund PPACA, they were not deposited into the HI trust fund.

    Or, perhaps you would prefer to confirm that this is a bipartisan issue – and you could criticize President Reagan. The Medicare Part A trust fund receives 7% of its revenue from the income taxation of Social Security benefits, part of the Social Security Amendments Act of 1983.

    These are not bright lines. The real issue is not the funding source, but getting Congress to act in a responsible manner.

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