This is an open letter to Congressman Tom Reed on his letter proposing raising debt limit conditioned on changes to Social Security.
Congressman Reed: We are stunned and dismayed that you recently signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner urging him to hold the debt ceiling issue hostage unless cuts were made to Social Security benefits. You know very well that Social Security is funded through the payroll tax paid by seniors over their working lives and their employers.
Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. The deficit - which has been cut in half since 2009 - was caused by the unbudgeted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts for the wealthy and the recession brought about by Wall Street all of which resulted in a significant decline in federal revenue. It is disheartening to read that you are demanding a means test for Social Security recipients, raising the retirement age, pushing for chained Consumer Price Index that minimizes annual cost-of-living adjustments, and, incredibly, that you are asking the wealthy to pay even less into the Social Security trust fund.
There are other ways to ensure that Social Security can be adequately funded other than your plan to cut benefits for seniors who struggle financially. In the same breath you propose to give the very wealthiest Americans another tax break. As it is, current cost-of-living adjustments hardly keep up with the rising costs seniors face every day.
Under your plan, everyone who receives Social Security now - or who will receive it in the future - will see less and less in return for what they paid into the fund over their working lives. Congressman Reed, please reconsider your position on Social Security.
When the debt issue again comes before you in a few weeks, join Republican and Democratic colleagues who are willing to support a "clean" continuing resolution that will fund the government at the same levels as last year without holding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or other programs hostage.
Instead, debate those issues separately, openly and honestly. And, before you cast your vote on Social Security, try living on $1,162 which is the average monthly payment for 58 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children.