Should Social Security survive?: Yes, the program should continue, and it would be political suicide to make it otherwise.
Social Security: Time to Close It Up?
The Social Security program is set to face a shortfall beginning after 2033. Its trust fund can afford to pay out full benefits until then and will have to reduce them beginning the year afterward. That will be the case unless Congress takes action to somehow adjust the funding formula to ensure the program’s viability.
There’s nowhere close to a consensus on the best way forward, and while bills have been introduced in Congress to make changes, none have gained any momentum.
No one has seriously proposed getting rid of Social Security altogether, but Democrats have managed to make political hay out of the issue, with some success, in the 2022 midterm elections.
In last year’s elections, some Republicans made certain comments about Social Security, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) proposing to make the program part of discretionary spending, while a campaign manifesto put out by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) proposed sunsetting all federal programs after five years- which Democrats interpreted to include Social Security.
Democrats used that argument during the midterm elections, telling a story that Republicans wanted to gut Social Security while the Democrats would save it. What will be done to shore up its value long term, however, wasn’t really part of the debate.
This continued after the midterms.
“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years,” Biden said in the State of the Union address earlier this year. This was what infamously led Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to rise from their seats and argue.
“So folks, as we all apparently agree. Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?” Biden then said, in words that were not part of his prepared text.
Social Security was not part of the debt ceiling talks in the spring, although, with a new House Speaker in place, it’s not clear where the issue will stand going forward. But it remains part of Democratic messaging, ahead of a possible government shutdown.
This week, Alex Lawson, Executive Director of the interest group Social Security Works, issued a statement describing Mike Johnson, the new House Speaker, as “an enemy of Social Security.”
“Rep. Mike Johnson has a long history of hostility towards Social Security and Medicare. As Chair of the Republican Study Committee from 2019-2021, Johnson released budgets that included
The Biden-Harris campaign also mentioned Social Security in their statement about the arrival of the new speaker.
“Now, Donald Trump has his loyal foot soldier to ban abortion nationwide, lead efforts to deny free and fair election results, gut Social Security and Medicare, and advance the extreme MAGA agenda at the expense of middle-class families. 22 days before Congress must act to avoid a government shutdown and while our allies overseas at war depend on our help, extreme MAGA House Republicans elevated a man to second-in-line to the presidency who still won’t admit President Biden won the 2020 election,” the campaign statement said.
This week, in a Congressional hearing, Republicans ripped the Social Security Administration for its backlog of disability claims.
“I represent a huge IRS processing facility in Ogden, Utah, and that’s the No. 1 thing I hear from constituents and from the folks that I serve that work at that facility,” Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) said at the hearing, per Newsweek. “There is a desire and a need to embrace as much technology as possible because it’s out there.”
Author Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade.