SS, Medicare again become the target of some in Congress
Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Earlier this year Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, suggested sunsetting “all federal legislation” after five years reasoning that “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” Critics immediately pointed out that would, by definition, include Social Security and Medicare.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, took it further in a recent interview. He complained that those who qualify for Social Security and Medicare — because they paid into the programs, remember — “just get it no matter what the cost.” He thinks the program should face annual authorization in Congress to get their funding.
That some Republicans would repeatedly threaten these programs — the mainstays of most seniors in the country — should give us pause this election year.
Even Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, has suggested a cut to Medicare and Social Security to control the nation’s rising debt.
Thanks to people like these in Congress, there are ongoing threats to taking Social Security and Medicare off the automatic-funding process that ensures people who have paid into the systems get what is coming to them, and instead be tossed up for regular congressional re-approval.
When conservatives talk about “entitlements,” they act as if it’s charity. In fact, both programs, despite their problems, are crucial to millions of older Americans who have paid into them throughout their working lives and, thus, are entitled to.
Social Security has long been the quintessential third rail of politics — touch it, and you’re dead. It is among the most popular programs not just in government today, but in the history of government. It deserves its popularity. When Franklin Roosevelt ushered it in during the 1930s (over intense Republican opposition), the goal was to end the then-common specter of poverty that awaited most Americans in old age. It has worked spectacularly. Unlike most government programs, it is largely self-funded, by future retirees. Medicare, which came along in the 1960s to address retiree medical care, operates under a similar process.
Keeping the programs adequately funded as Americans live longer is a challenge, but a far more manageable one than America would face if those benefits were withdrawn or significantly reduced. That’s why politicians never launch frontal attacks against either program. But Republicans — who, as a party, have never quite made peace with these successful experiments in quasi-socialism — are always offering privatization schemes and other so-called “reforms” that would ultimately undermine the benefits.
Sen. Rick Scott needs to look back to his roots. He has been the recipient of public aid. He grew up in public housing in the Midwest. He used the GI bill to attend college, and he went on to run the world’s largest healthcare company and become a millionaire. Some of those millions came from Medicare and Medicaid funds paid for hospital patients. He has benefitted immensely from public aid.
Medicare is not free, neither is Social Security. When you are working you pay into these funds. So much is taken from your SS check each month for Medicare. You pay with the promise of getting something back in return. It is an investment.
Before you vote in November, find out how your candidates for Congress stand on Social Security and Medicare. It’s a vested interest of yours if you are a working American.