13 October 2022

A dastardly plot

While winning a Senate majority increasingly looks out of reach for Republicans, a House majority is distinctly possible.  If they get it, they plan to force Democrats to make concessions which would almost certainly include cuts to Social Security and Medicare -- possibly by drastically raising the eligibility age, though if they really want to cut spending quickly, it's hard to see how they could avoid actual benefit cuts.

Late in 2023, Congress will need to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a federal default which would have apocalyptic consequences.  If the Republicans have a House majority, raising the limit will require the votes of at least some of them -- so they can threaten to let the train-wreck happen unless Democrats enact their agenda.  And cuts to Social Security and Medicare will almost certainly be part of that, along with cuts to programs which assist low-income people, who are already being ground down more and more in an economy massively skewed to favor the wealthy.

The deficit is a real problem, but its roots lie largely in the successive tax cuts for the rich which Republicans seem to enact whenever they have the power.  Any effort to reduce the deficit should start with repealing those tax cuts.  As for Social Security, as a comment on the linked post explains:

Social Security has nothing to do with the Federal Budget.  It is paid for entirely by the workers who are paying, while they are working, for the income they will need when they can no longer work.  A longer life expectancy does not mean you will be able to work when you are older, or even be able to find a job..... Because we are expected to live longer, we need to save more for a longer, not later, retirement.  The cost of saving more via Social Security “payroll tax” will be about 2 percent of payroll, which can be reached painlessly by raising the payroll tax about one tenth of one percent per year.

But the Republicans have made it clear that cutting the program, not saving it, is their goal, and that they're willing to risk wrecking the economy to enforce their will.  All voters who are at or approaching retirement age need to be aware of this.

There are other reasons why Republicans winning the House would be bad.  To pass legislation, both the House and Senate need to agree, so if the Republicans win the House, nothing substantive will get done for the next two years, even if Democrats have a bigger Senate majority.  Instead, we'll have two years in which the Senate does nothing but approve judges and the House does nothing but "investigate" Hunter Biden's laptop and impeach president Biden on the basis of whatever the Trumpanzee lunatic fringe is most outraged about in a given week.

It's already looking like the Republican crusade against abortion could be a game-changer for this election.  But an explicit threat to Social Security and Medicare, even if it's just about raising the eligibility ages, could have comparable impact.  Older people vote reliably and skew conservative.  The Republicans are declaring war on one of their own biggest constituencies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we just abolish the debt ceiling? Arguably it's unconstitutional, and I don't like these games.

A tax hike on the 1%, and actually prosecuting tax fraud, will fix the inflation issue, much better than playing games with interest as well.

(And that brings up a whole other issue in modern politics: Rats make bad cats.)

14 October, 2022 07:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

We'd definitely be better off without the debt ceiling. My guess is, there's some reason (maybe the filibuster?) why it can't be abolished without Republican cooperation, and they don't want to give up the awesome trouble-making ability it gives them.

14 October, 2022 07:24  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

We'd better off if the republiCONs weren't such A-holes.

14 October, 2022 13:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

That would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

14 October, 2022 21:23  
Anonymous Annie said...

The Republicans claim Social Security must be cut because it will be insolvent—but that’s only the case if they refuse fixes. There are ways, but they require tax increases—often on highest wage earners. Here’s an interesting article, which notes that unlike most issues, support for Social Security is bipartisan.

15 October, 2022 08:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Their minds can't encompass a fix which involves even a very modest tax increase to save even a program popular with their own voters. Let's hope Social Security lives up to its reputation as a political "third rail".

15 October, 2022 11:15  
Blogger run75441 said...


And older people do have a vote and are more likely to turn out. Screw with Social Security and Repubs may not see the presidency of either house for decades to come.

Voter turnout was highest among those ages 65 to 74 at 76.0%, while the percentage was lowest among those ages 18 to 24 at 51.4%. Overall, voter turnout increased as age increased, with the exception of 75-plus which had a turnout rate that was below 65-74 year-olds and not significantly different than the turnout for 55 to 64 year-olds.

How would you vote?


15 October, 2022 11:16  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Indeed -- and I'm hoping they'll see the danger now, before the damage is actually done.

How would you vote?

Oh, I know how I'm going to vote, where Congress is concerned. Be damned if they're going to mess with my Social Security just when I'm about to actually start collecting it.

15 October, 2022 11:28  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Cuts to Social Security and Medicare should be the last thing they should be thinking. It's already hard enough for the elderly, disabled and retired people.

15 October, 2022 13:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

They don't seem to care how hard they make things for people like us, so long as their tax cuts for billionaires remain sacrosanct.

15 October, 2022 14:07  
Blogger Daal said...

we are an embarrassment compared to other wealthy countries...

15 October, 2022 21:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sadly true, at least where the social safety net is concerned.

15 October, 2022 23:56  
Anonymous spirilis said...

It has enough money now for the next dozen or so years. A million plus just checked out without cashing out, half standing in line or even just turned from the window. Do you kill a pig when it is fat or when it is skinny?

19 October, 2022 13:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

They want to kill Social Security while it's still fat, so Wall Street can loot the money. But good point about how the wingnuts are making their contribution to the solvency of the system by letting covid kill them off before they can collect.

19 October, 2022 20:41  
Anonymous spirilis said...

I disagree that they want to kill it. All thieves are not murders. My bad for the inaccurate metaphor. My point should have answered the question Do we rob the bank Friday morning before the payroll goes out or do we wait until Saturday morning after the money is gone?

20 October, 2022 08:27  

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