Lately, the Republican candidate for Senate in Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, has been trying to portray her opponent Phil Bredesen, a two term Governor of Tennessee, as being a tool of Chuck Schumer. Of course, this tactic of hers is completely ludicrous. Chuck Schumer has had absolutely no influence on Phil Bredesen’s career as Tennessee Governor. In addition, this tactic is completely hypocritical because Marsha Blackburn’s entire career in Congress has been one of toeing her party line, including supporting Paul Ryan’s attempted attacks on Social Security.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), one of the cosponsors to the radical budget proposal authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), went on Fox News yesterday to float one of the budget’s key components. Heralding “personal [Social Security] accounts” for “younger earners,” Blackburn touted Social Security privatization as the only way “you could get some of this under control”:
BLACKBURN: You know, people forget Medicare is a program that individuals have paid into every single year with their Medicare and their Social Security beneifts the federal government has first right of refusal on that paycheck. And this is one of the reasons we need to make sure individuals get the money out that they have placed in. This is one of the reasons we have had the discussion over and over for our younger earners of having accounts that have their Social Security number and their information on that — personal accounts.
VARNEY: You’re right, but it was roundly rejected when President Bush suggested doing just that. Didn’t fly. […]
BLACKBURN: I was just going to say, and it’s interesting to me the number of people now that are coming to town hall meetings and are saying ‘you know what, if you were to scale back some of this bureaucracy and you began to look at some options for younger workers, you could get some of this under control.’
While Varney seemed supportive of the idea of subjecting the retirement safety net to the whims of the stock market, he rightly noted that President Bush’s attempt was “roundly rejected.” Indeed, if Bush were successful at his push to do what Ryan and Blackburn are proposing now, seniors would have lost tens of thousands of dollars in the 2008–2009 market plunge.
Marsha Blackburn is not alone in her support for proposals that could cut Social Security. In fact, she is basically within the mainstream of the Republican party these days.
Fellow Republican Ted Cruz has a long history of wishing for Social Security payments to be reduced for future recipients:
Cruz, Sept. 9, 2011: There is a level at which words have meaning. What does the word Ponzi scheme mean? A Ponzi scheme is a system — if you and I cooked up a Ponzi scheme, we would have current people pay into it. We would take the money and we would pay it out to other recipients. That’s the definition of a Ponzi scheme. In the English language, that is exactly how Social Security operates.
Smith: So, I’m going to take that as a “yes.” That you believe that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.
Cruz: I think there is an effort to treat that as rhetoric, but there’s no doubt that’s what it is.
Ted Cruz recommends increasing eligibility ages and lowering monthly payments in order to protect Social Security.
Sen. Cruz’s proposal would therefore reduce a retiree’s full lifetime Social Security benefits.
Marsha Blackburn’s colleagues in Congress are currently proposing cuts to Social Security:
House Republicans released a budget proposal Tuesday that would balance in nine years – but only by making large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, that President Donald Trump has vowed not to touch.
Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.
Fellow Republican Marco Rubio has also made clear that it is their intention to try to cut Social Security payments:
To address the federal deficit, which will grow by at least $1 trillion if the tax plan passes, Congress will need to cut entitlement programs such as Social Security, Rubio told reporters this week. Advocates for the elderly and the poor have warned that entitlement programs would be on the chopping block, but this is the first time a prominent Republican has backed their claims.
“You have got to generate economic growth because growth generates revenue,” Rubio said at a Politico conference. “But you also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.”
Now, Donald Trump has claimed many times that he will not cut Social Security. But, Donald Trump has claimed many things, like how he would take a tough stance against rising prescription drug prices, which he absolutely hasn’t done. If Republicans like Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, and others are elected this November, it is almost assured that they will try to pass cuts to Social Security. If Republicans send Social Security cuts to Donald Trump’s desk, is anyone going to have confidence that Donald Trump will be true to his word?
Besides, there is a strong possibility that Donald Trump is forced to resign due to the Russia investigation and the ongoing cooperation of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. That would leave us with Mike Pence as President. And like Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Mike Pence is also no fan of Social Security:
As leader of the Republican Study Committee, the House’s far-right wing caucus, during the Bush administration, Pence doubled-down on President George Bush’s failed privatization efforts by calling for an even larger private accounts scheme to be implemented sooner, putting Americans at even greater fiscal risk than the President’s doomed plan. The Washington Times reported in 2005:
Beyond privatization, Pence’s comments make it clear there isn’t a Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefit cut he won’t embrace:
“I think everything has to be on the table…I think it’s absolutely imperative, whether it’s Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.”
If Republicans like Marsha Blackburn and Ted Cruz win in November, Social Security will officially be on the chopping block.
Update: GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now calling for cuts to Social Security, too:
After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that “it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.” The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.
New Treasury Department analysis on Monday revealed that corporate tax cuts had a significant impact on the deficit this year. Federal revenue rose by 0.04 percent in 2018, a nearly 100 percent decrease last year’s 1.5 percent. In fiscal year 2018, tax receipts on corporate income fell to $205 billion from $297 billion in 2017.
Still, McConnell insisted that the change had nothing to do with a lack of revenue or increased spending and instead was due to entitlement and welfare programs. The debt, he said, was very “disturbing” and driven by “the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.… There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully, at some point here, we’ll get serious about this.”