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"This commission is a poison pill designed to slash Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors."

By Jake Johnson, senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Deed

Photo: House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Library of Congress

January 22, 2024 (Washington, D.C.) -- Social Security defenders sounded the alarm ahead of a Thursday House Budget Committee hearing and vote on the Fiscal Commission Act, bipartisan legislation that opponents say is a ploy to fast-track cuts to the popular New Deal program without political accountability.

"This commission is a poison pill designed to slash Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors," Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, said in a statement ahead of Thursday's markup. "The White House has accurately stated that such a commission is a 'death panel for Medicare and Social Security.'"

Altman warned that House Republicans, who have made a so-called fiscal commission a top priority, are "rushing to advance" the Fiscal Commission Act so they can attempt to tie it to must-pass government funding legislation. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), the chair of the House Budget Committee, said in late November that appropriations bills are a "likely vehicle" for the fiscal commission.

"Democratic leadership should respond that our earned benefits are non-negotiable, and that they will not accept a commission under any circumstances," said Altman. "Instead, any legislation on Social Security should go through regular order so that Congress can debate it in the sunlight."

Social Security Works is urging members of the public to call their representatives and express opposition to the Fiscal Commission Act ahead of Thursday's committee hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am ET.

Progressive Democrats on the GOP-controlled House Budget Committee are expected to push back forcefully against the commission bill, which is led by Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.), a budget committee member. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are spearheading a companion measure in the Senate.

Last week, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)—a member of the budget panel—co-led a letter to the House leadership opposing the legislation and arguing that debates over Social Security and Medicare "should be done in the open and not behind closed doors."

"Social Security benefits are already modest—only about $21,384 a year, yet Republicans want to put these hard-earned benefits at risk," Schakowsky said in a statement. "We must expand Social Security benefits, not cut them."

But the bill is likely to get some Democratic support from the budget panel: Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), a committee member, has joined Peters in co-sponsoring the legislation.

If passed, the Fiscal Commission Act would establish a panel of 16 members selected by Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.

The panel would consist of both lawmakers and individuals from the private sector, and it would have a mandate to craft policy recommendations "designed to balance the budget at the earliest reasonable date" and improve the "long-term fiscal outlook" of the nation's trust fund programs, including Social Security and Medicare, according to a summary from Huizenga's office.

The commission would then vote on whether to advance its recommendations shortly after the 2024 election. If approved by the commission, the proposals would receive expedited consideration in both the House and Senate, with no amendments allowed.

Polling data released last year by Data for Progress showed that a fiscal commission tasked with cutting Social Security and Medicare is overwhelmingly unpopular with U.S. voters, including 78% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans.

Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said ahead of Thursday's markup that "a fiscal commission is designed to give individual members of Congress political cover for cutting Americans' earned benefits."

"Any changes to Social Security and Medicare should go through regular order and not be relegated to a commission unaccountable to the public and rushed through the Congress," said Richtman. "This bill does not deserve a markup or a vote—or, frankly, to see the light of day."

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Soc Sec

Chained CPI, raising the age for benefits, those are the types of solutions republicans push. Privatizing the administration of Social Security, letting the SSA "invest" in the stock markets, that's their solution, just don't retire in a down market year. The really rich need to pay more for the people that they profit off of, that's a better solution. And if it is done well maybe the tax on the not really rich and small businesses could be lowered even, a little bit. Heck, reduce the rate or exclude the first $30k of income, and Everyone gets a tax cut!


More Democratic proponganda.

So you think slashing Social Security is ok behind closed doors?

It's not propaganda to warn the public, especially those of us now on Social Security, about efforts to cut benefits especially in such a sneaky way without public debate.  Those of us who worked our whole lives and paid into  Social Security are entitled to what we were promised.

How come Republicans are always good with slashing taxes on billionaires,millionaires and big corporations, yet complain about providing earned benefits to vulnerable seniors?


What nonsense

I am so tired of seeing the lame generalizations these liberal so-called reporters use to claim the Republicans are trying to kill social security, when the fiscal commission mission statement clearly states they want to keep it viable. The writer (and the commenter above) just assume they don't don't need to provide support or proof of any kind that their claims are true. Apparently it's enough for them that they SAY it's true. With hysteria like this, it's no wonder the looming SS shortage is so intractable. Even a fiscal committee made up of an even number of Democrats and Republicans isn't acceptable to them. The only solution they can think of for "vulnerable seniors" is apparently to ignore the problem until we're all eating dog food. If you're going to run a press release as if it's a real story, then at least demand that the propaganda come packaged with some proof instead of unsupported generalities.

This was not a press release.

It was a reprint of an article run in Common Dreams. You are the one providing claims without facts.

No, you are misinformed.

The GOP has a long history of attacking Social Security; this is just the latest effort.  From the Center for Retirement Research at Boston University:  "The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has just released its FY 2024 Budget Protecting America’s Economic Security and once again called for significant cuts to Social Security.  The RSC has served as the conservative caucus of House Republicans since its founding in 1973, and it currently consists of 175 of the 222 Republican House members."

Meanwhile the Biden administration has released its plan to strengthen and increase funding for Social Security: 

No, you are using a biased source

Had you gone to the report your writer claims to quote, you would find that her list of horrible things the Republicans are allegedly planning, is nothing more than the writer re-spinning a recap of the available options that EVERYONE has discussed for fixing soc sec. You would also see that they are rejecting the Biden approach, which is to do absolutely nothing and let the fund go the large automatic reduction that will be mandated in 2033, when the fund peters out. Perhaps that seems like a good idea to YOU, but I don't favor it myself. Do your own reading instead of relying on some biased writer from an institution that nobody has ever heard of.

That said, what is YOUR plan

That said, what is YOUR plan for saving soc sec, besides blaming a single political party for everything bad that has ever happened?

There are many options for SSI long term.

Why cut money from seniors relying on meager SSI benefits as often their only income, when under Trump and Bush, massive tax cuts were given to the wealthiest Americans and giant corporations?  Reducing benefits for the wealthiest Americans and corporations by even a small amount is far more fair than hurting low-income seniors,many of whom havedisabilities or dementia and are unable to work to supplement their SSI benefits.

There are other options to save Social Security without cutitng benefits.  See "Key Principles for Strengthening Social Security: Testimony of Kathleen Romig, Director of Social Security and Disability Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Before the Senate Budget Committee"