Hands off to cuts to Social Security and Medicare

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

When you work and receive your paychecks, you will notice some of your pay has been deducted for Social Security and Medicare. It ensures you a check when you retire. Though not large, it is your money and every little bit helps. It was not meant to help pay off the national debit or for foreign aid. It was meant for you, the American worker.
Most Americans are deeply opposed to cutting into Medicare or Social Security benefits, and most support raising taxes on the nation’s highest earners to keep Medicare running as it is.
Few Americans would be OK with some ways politicians have suggested to shore up the programs: According to an AP news poll, 79% say they oppose reducing the size of Social Security benefits and 67% are against raising monthly premiums for Medicare. About 65 million older and disabled people access government-sponsored health insurance through Medicare and rely on monthly payments from Social Security.
One way or another, changes are in store for the programs. In November, the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report warned that Medicare will only have enough cash to cover 89% of payments for inpatient hospital visits and nursing home stays by 2031. Just two years later, Social Security will only be able to pay 77% of benefits to retirees.
Both Republican and Democratic leaders have publicly promised not to cut benefits for Social Security or Medicare. Some Republicans, however, have floated the idea of raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to keep the programs afloat.
In one of his first moves after being elected House Speaker, Mike Johnson promised to form a bipartisan debt commission to tackle what he termed “the greatest threat to our national security.”
The announcement sent shivers down the spines of advocates for Social Security and Medicare.
That’s because when Johnson chaired the Republican Study Committee a few years ago, the conservative group called for a variety of changes to the entitlement programs that it argued would save them from insolvency. Advocates contend the committee’s proposals are veiled attempts to cut benefits by raising the retirement age and making the benefits less generous, among other changes.
Social Security and Medicare are in financial trouble, and the nation’s debt is on an unsustainable trajectory. But solving these fiscal woes would likely require such difficult decisions that lawmakers are loath to deal with them.
Social Security will not be able to pay full benefits in 2034 if Congress doesn’t act, according to its most recent trustees’ annual report. At that time, the funds’ reserves will be depleted, and the program’s continuing income will cover only 80 percent of benefits owed.
Medicare is in a more critical financial condition. Its hospital insurance trust fund, known as Medicare Part A, will be able to pay scheduled benefits in full only until 2031, according to its trustees’ annual report. At that time, Medicare will be able to cover only 89% of total scheduled benefits.
Doing nothing is not an option. Addressing Social Security’s massive financial issues will require implementing proposals similar to those of the Republican Study Committee, as well as tax increases and other measures.
Congress has always flirted with taking funds for Social Security and Medicare and channeling them elsewhere.
It’s time our elected officials in Washington look at the money that is coming into the treasury, and note where it is going. How much is going to pet projects of congressmen and senators, how much is going to foreign aid, etc. Just where is the money going? And, who is not paying their fair share? Also, Congress needs to look at the high cost of medical care and drugs.
Americans have sacrificed to pay into Social Security and Medicare…and these funds should have “Hands Off” stamped all over them. It is not Congress’s money to do with as they want. It is the money of working Americans and retired Americans.
We hope our congresswoman will stand up for the people she represents in Northeast Tennessee and vote “no” to cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

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