Social Security Is on the Brink of Collapse. The GOP Won’t Touch It.
If you follow policy debates long enough, arguments you never thought you’d hear can become key components of the two parties’ policy platforms. That’s certainly the case when it comes to some Republicans and their new “never touch Social Security and Medicare” position.
Over the weekend, newly elected Sen. J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) tweeted that former President Donald Trump was 100 percent correct to demand that “under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.” Vance’s tweet was issued amid the debt ceiling fight, but this position has long been held by Trump.
Now, to be fair, the GOP’s well-intentioned engagement in the overall debt ceiling dispute is limited by the short time Congress has to raise the limit, all but ruling out credible reforms of Medicare or Social Security. Reforming these two programs will take a considerable amount of time and requires bipartisan action. However, this reality is no reason to assert that the programs’ benefits should never be touched.
I cannot wait to hear the grand plan that the “don’t touch Social Security and Medicare” Republican caucus has to address the $116 trillion over 30-year shortfall—that’s 6 percent of U.S. GDP—facing the two programs. No action from Congress means no money to pay for all the benefits. That means enormous cuts that will hurt the low-income seniors who truly depend on the programs.
Of course, if Vance and friends insist on not touching benefits, they could address the Social Security and Medicare shortfalls with enormous tax hikes. For Social Security alone, when the trust fund dries out, they will have to agree to immediately raise the payroll tax from 12.4 percent to 15.64 percent—or close to a 25 percent tax increase
Article from Reason.com