July 24, 2015

I get really impatient with the lazy "there's no difference between the two parties" trope. One big difference is that the majority in one party is trying to expand Social Security, and the majority in the other is trying to destroy it.

Yes, the GOP plans to hold Social Security hostage this year by refusing to allow a thing that's always been allowed, and they're counting on forcing Dems to cut benefits. Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, explains:

Although today's Congress does not seem likely to expand Social Security benefits, the Democrats could force their hand. Though one single payment is deducted from paychecks for Social Security, its revenue is divided into two separate trusts. From time to time rebalancing is required. One would think that Social Security trustees have the authority to do this simple rebalancing themselves. But that is not how the law works. Instead, rebalancing requires an act of Congress.

The Trustees Report once again projects that Congress must act before the end of 2016 to rebalance Social Security's trust funds. If that is not done, Social Security's disability benefits will be cut by around 20 percent. Rebalancing should be routine and has been so in the past.

However, today's Republican leaders have already made clear, through a rule adopted on the very first day of the new Congress, that they plan to hold rebalancing hostage this time around. Presumably, they are seeking a bipartisan deal, worked out behind closed doors, that cuts Social Security and enacts other unpopular changes.

Altman points out this is the 80th anniversary of Social Security:

I see no better way to celebrate that milestone than by expanding its modest benefits. The 2015 Trustees Report shows that the current program is fully affordable. Indeed, the United States can fully afford an expanded Social Security.

Let's look at the other piece of the "both parties are alike": One of them is threatening to phase out Medicare. The other one wants to expand it.


People love Medicare so much, they're holding birthday parties. Find one near you!

Medicare is very, very popular and turns 50 years old this year. People love it so much, they're holding birthday parties. Find one near you! Show up to honor one of the most important and successful programs in US history.

Because the people who want to destroy these programs? They always show up.

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