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Coronavirus: Republican stimulus bill opens the door to Social Security and Medicare cuts

Written by Diane Archer

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is responding to the coronavirus pandemic with the HEALS Act, legislation that is designed, among other things, to cut Social Security and Medicare. To be sure, McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans are not saying publicly that their next stimulus package includes provisions that would make it easy for them to slash Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors and quickly. But, they are tying any new Congressional appropriations to stimulate the economy and help Americans to their ability to sacrifice people’s Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Instead of a bill that would strengthen Americans’ economic security, the Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion bill would endanger it. The HEALS Act incorporates a bill introduced by Mitt Romney, The TRUST Act, which would establish a bi-partisan committee to finds ways to reduce people’s earned Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Through the HEALS Act, the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress could trade away retirement security for Americans under the pretense that they were reducing the deficit. But, Social Security has no effect on the deficit, as Ronald Reagan explained years ago. And, Medicare is critical to the health security of older adults and people with disabilities and should not be cut.

The best way to address shortfalls in the Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds–what the public supports–is to raise taxes, particularly on the wealthiest Americans. Representative John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act does just that. The public overwhelmingly opposes cuts to these programs.

It’s up to the Democrats to refuse to entertain a stimulus package that includes the TRUST Act. Cuts to Social Security and Medicare are wrong, unnecessary and have nothing at all to do with fighting the coronavirus pandemic or promoting people’s economic security. What’s more, the Republican bill reduces weekly emergency unemployment checks by $400 to $200, while allocating $1.75 billion to new headquarters for the FBI.

Alex Lawson of Social Security Works reports that “Prominent Democrats are speaking out against it, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and lead Senate negotiator on the relief packages.”  Says Wyden: “True to form, Republicans are trying to gut Social Security and Medicare in the middle of a pandemic. This bill doubles down on using secret, closed-door panels to undo these earned benefits. I will oppose any bill that includes a fast lane to cut Social Security and Medicare.”

The Republican bill does include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans with annual adjusted gross incomes at or below $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for married couples who file jointly. Married couples each receive $1,200. And, they receive $500 more for each qualifying child. This is one area where the Democrats and Republicans appear to be almost aligned. The Democrats want Americans to receive $1,200 for each qualifying child.

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1 Comment

  • …what needs to be done is the cap needs to be eliminated. We have supported the wealthy through tax breaks which has crippled budgets of various services as well as often resulting in higher taxes and fewer deductions for the average working citizen. It is about time they take on a bit more more of the burden that we have been carrying for them for over three and a half decades. The real foundation of the economy is the common and working citizen, not the uber rich or corporations (both which abuse loopholes and stash their gains in overseas tax shelters).

    If we are unable to participate in the economy like we should be able to do because of gross economic inequity, that foundation begins to sag as and the economy becomes top heavy. This is what resulted in the crash 91 years ago. We are the people who make the goods and provide the services companies and shareholders profit off of. We are also the ones who purchase those same goods and services that keeps their businesses afloat. Without us, there is no economy. I’d like to see them having to hustle filling and packaging orders in a fulfilment centre at an insane pace, driving for Uber or Lyft, standing over hot griddles at a fast food joint, waiting tables in restaurants, or on their feet all day at assembly lines. Of course, that won’t happen however, they need us more than we need them so it is about time they treat us like people instead of numbers or a “resource” to bleed and then toss aside when they feel we no longer meet their needs.

    Mr. McConnell needs to be dethroned, either by being voted out or flipping Senate even by a 1 seat majority. As much as I despise Mr. Reagan for what he set in motion with the first massive movement of wealth upwards through tax cuts (that has yet to “trickle down”), he was right about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, they are self funded trusts that have zero to do with the National budget. The ploys by Messrs Romney, McConnell, Ryan (fortunately retired), and others is all about putting the programme in the hands of profiteering fund managers and insurance companies through privatisation.

    The infuriating part of this is they have theirs (Mr. Ryan ,who himself benefited from Social Security, even flaunted that) in generous pensions after they retire or are “sacked” by the voters. The aforementioned Mr. Ryan receives an annual pension (about 86,000$) that is between 7 – 8 times what I get a year on Social Security, while having a net worth of 7.5$ million. Mr. McConnell stands to receive a healthy 6 digit retirement and his net worth is around 25$ million. Meanwhile those of us on Social Security are lucky to have a couple hundred in our accounts after expenses every month.

    Oh and yes, they also get to collect Social Security as well, even though they pay less of their total income towards it than we do.

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