A letter from 51 Republican House members Boehner put together by Wisconsin's own Reid Ribble suggests that the GOP turn its attention toward cutting Social Security during this debate of government shutdown and debt ceilings. With no word about the Affordable Care Act (the "reason" they shut the government down in the first place), Ribble's letter calls for a series of changes to one of the most effective government programs ever devised. Hey, if you can't get what you want via ransom (cutting the Affordable Care Act) then see if you can extort something else.
What are Ribble's suggestions?
Cutting Social Security benefits for middle- and higher-income retirees. What do some in Congress consider "middle income?" Well, $35,000 for starters.
Changing the inflation calculation for calculating future growth, otherwise known as cutting the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) by moving to "chained" CPI. Under chained CPI, someone retiring at age 65 would lose nearly $5,000 in Social Security benefits by age 75. By age 85, that person would lose almost $14,000. If he or she lived until 95, the loss would be more than $28,000.
Any solutions worth considering?
While Ribble tries to massage the language of his letter so to not rankle his Tea-Party friends, one option is to raise the amount of income on which FICA payroll taxes are assessed.
"Restoring the Reagan standard that 90 percent of wages are covered by the Social Security tax, which now applies to only 83 percent of wages. If we went back to the Reagan standard, the Social Security tax would apply to close to $200,000 of wages this year instead of $110,100."
Making those who are more able to pay, and used to actually pay, pay more of their fair share than those who cannot or should not be forced to pay for those who won't.
But here's the question: Why must this be the alternative? Why now? Why must Ribble push these mostly Social Security cutting changes while they are figuratively putting sugar in the gas tank of the government with the shutdown? Could it be that they are trying desperately to find some way to back out of a move that not only failed to stop the Affordable Care Act (albeit may have exacerbated the glitchiness) but gave the GOP the lowest favorable numbers ever recorded by Gallup.
The GOP threw a temper-tantrum for a law that voters decided was worth keeping and as a consequence shut down the government. They won't get to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we should not let them cut Social Security either.