CHICAGO (Reuters) – Traditionally, U.S. politicians avoid talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare close to election time.
Midterm elections are around the corner, but Republicans are making no secret of their plans to go after these critical retirement programs. It is the flip side of their plan to expand the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Cutting spending by these programs might be used to offset some of the cuts.
US - House - Speaker - Paul - Ryan
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been clear on where he wants to go after tax reform. Late last month he told a televised town hall meeting that Congress must cut “entitlements” to reduce the debt. Likewise, President Donald Trump recently said he wants to focus on “welfare reform” after tax legislation is signed into law.
And Senator Marco Rubio told a Politico conference last month: “We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”
Tax - Overhaul - Legislation - Law - Workers
If tax overhaul legislation is signed into law, should workers and retirees expect changes to these programs anytime soon? Probably not. Any damage Republicans might do would be phased in over time. Moreover, some of their proposals would have difficulty getting through the Senate without significant support from Democrats – and that appears very unlikely.
We do know what the long-range Republican blueprint for Social Security looks like. Their marquee proposal is the Social Security Reform Act of 2016, sponsored by Representative Sam Johnson. The bill would gradually raise the age when workers can receive their full benefit to 69; under current law, the full benefit age is 66 and headed to 67 for all workers who were born in 1960 or later. It also would add new means-testing...
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