Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Trumpy-The-Clown Budget Cuts Social Security, Despite His Repeated Promises That He Wouldn't


The short version is that the budget proposal cuts vital programs including Social Security and Medicaid in order to pump money into tax cuts for the very richest Americans and for money cash for the bloated and wasteful Pentagon. Trump was always consistent and insistent on the campaign trail that he would not ever, under any circumstances cut Social Security. He told Republican primary voters again and again that the other Republicans would all cut Social Security-- which was true-- but that he alone never would and that, in fact, no one else could figure out how to save it-- only Trumpanzee. Of course, he didn't mean a word of what he said. Does he ever?

The in-house brain surgeon's department accidentally posted-- and then took down-- the Health and Human Services summary, which makes clear that the $837 billion in cuts to Medicaid in TrumpCare wasn't enough punishment for poor people and that Trump's cabinet of billionaires wants to cut another $610 billion from Medicaid on top of that!

As Dylan Matthews reminded Vox readers yesterday, "He’s even challenged other Republicans on the issue, telling WROK radio in Wisconsin, 'Paul [Ryan] wants to knock out Social Security, knock it down, way down. He wants to knock Medicare way down... I want to keep Social Security intact... I’m not going to cut it, and I’m not going to raise ages, and I’m not going to do all of the things that they want to do. But they want to really cut it, and they want to cut it very substantially, the Republicans, and I’m not going to do that.'"

The $1.7 trillion in cuts decimates SNAP (food stamps), CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), and SSDI (Disability Insurance)-- which is part of Social Security. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. In yesterday's L.A. Times, Michael Hiltzik went after Trump for his betrayal, making it clear that Budget Director and Freedom Caucus refugee Mick Mulvaney is likely at fault.
It turns out that Mulvaney was setting up a flagrant deception during that “Face the Nation” appearance. He asked moderator John Dickerson, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don't think so.”

Dickerson let the remark, which we described then as “a drive-by shooting” aimed at some of the nation’s neediest and most defenseless people, slide without comment.

But Mulvaney was tapping into a knowledge vacuum that appears to extend more deeply into the Washington press corps. Politico, which reports that the budget document will “avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare,” and the Associated Press, which says the budget “won’t touch Social Security or Medicare,” get snowed by the implication that a cut in disability isn’t a cut to Social Security.

A four-page “talking points” memo being circulated by the White House and published by Politico gives the game away, by stating the budget “does not cut core Social Security benefits.” (Emphasis ours.) This shows that on Face the Nation, Mulvaney was merely seeding the landscape with a rank deception.

...Disability insurance is an inextricable part of Social Security. It’s a core part of the program, just like retirement benefits. It was created as an add-on to Social Security in 1956, under President Eisenhower. It’s financed by the payroll tax, and the reserve funds that cover both aspects of the program are more entwined than ever, thanks to a reform measure passed by Congress in 2015. Social Security’s financing structure is based on its role as a combined disability insurance and retirement program, and anyone who doesn’t know that shouldn’t be writing about it, much less managing it.

Mulvaney is merely deploying a classic divide-and-conquer strategy by depicting disability as somehow distinct from Social Security. Disability recipients have been consistently demonized by conservative politicians and inattentive journalists as layabouts and malingerers, just as the program has been described as out of control. Neither assertion is accurate, but that doesn’t stop them from being incessantly trotted out.

Mulvaney in his TV appearance invoked them again, calling disability “the fastest-growing program” and calling it “very wasteful.” In truth, disability rolls have been shrinking. That’s because the economic and demographic trends that sent the rolls higher in recent decades have ebbed, including the addition of more women to the workforce and the aging of the working population.

Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, a leading advocacy group, calls Mulvaney’s attempt to distinguish disability from Social Security “Orwellian,” and properly so. It’s nothing other than a ploy to slither out from a campaign promise that President Trump could not have made more explicitly.

One must ask: Where will the deceit stop? Trump and Mulvaney have no right to redefine the disability program as something other than Social Security. If they’re allowed to get away with it, what’s to stop them from declaring that survivor, dependent, and spousal benefits aren’t “core” Social Security benefits, and take a hacksaw to them too?
Ro Khanna (D-CA) is preparing to question Mulvaney tomorrow when he testifies before the House Budget Committee. This morning, he released a statement that should give some idea about the kinds of questions he'll probably be asking:
The budget the White House released today is one that breaks President Trump's promise to forgotten Americans. This budget would leave millions of individuals and families at a loss to the critical programs they turn to in times of need and help keep them out of poverty. The administration wants to dismantle Medicaid, cut Social Security, eviscerate public education funding, weaken our ability to fight climate change and countless other damaging choices – all for a massive tax cut for the very rich.

The budget proposal also undermines how the government supports job growth and American innovation. The administration wants to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership-- just a few of the many successful programs that have led to the rapid growth of new 21st century industries across the U.S.

A budget should reflect the values of our nation. Clearly, we now know where the White House stands.
Oklahoma doesn't have any Democrats in its congressional delegation. But Oklahoma City voters may change that in 2018, when outspoken progressive Tom Guild faces off against Social Security foe Steve Russell. "I support raising benefits for Social Security recipients struggling to survive," Guild told us this morning after the Trump plan leaked. "I support raising the cap on contributions to Social Security from the current first ~$120,000 of income to $250,000 and within a few years completely abolishing the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes. This will allow us to increase benefits for seniors at age 75 by about $1,000 each year; and raise the stipend for those reaching age 85 by an additional $1,000 a year. Russell supports massive new tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. He wants to redistribute trillions of dollars in wealth away from hard working Americans to the wealthy with massive individual and corporate tax cuts. He talks about raising the retirement age (again) for Social Security; adjusting the cost of living downward; and allowing workers to invest Social Security funds privately (aka privatization). Privatization would destroy Social Security as we have known it since 1935, and leave many seniors in desperate poverty. He is completely out of touch with real people’s lives, and wants millions of Americans on Social Security to remain in poverty and to live in difficult financial circumstances during their retirement. It is time for someone to represent our district who cares about and understands the reality of the lives of working people, the middle class, and those struggling to survive on fixed incomes. The sole source of income for tens of millions of Social Security recipients is their monthly Social Security stipend. It’s easy for Russell, who each year is paid by taxpayers $285,000 in salary and benefits, to pontificate about balancing the budget on the backs of working people and retirees, while he supports massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. We can and must do better for the people of the fifth district of Oklahoma and America!" If you'd like to help elect people who will go to the wall to defend and expand Social Security, please consider helping Tom Guild replace Steve Russell on OK-05-- here at the congressional thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look stupid, if anyone from either party "promises" something that will help people*, they are lying. This is just fact. It's supported by everything both sides have DONE since 1980.

* people, in this context, means anyone not worth $20 million or more. Their promises to this .1% are always kept... assuming they are current on their political donations.


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