Letter: Social service cuts are in GOP's plans

Posted
To the Editor:
Cutting Social Security and Medicare is clearly in Republican plans. We know that because they are publicly saying it. While Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell issued a joint statement on December 1 "reassuring" everyone that the GOP tax cut bill's ballooning of the deficit wouldn't trigger automatic cuts to programs like Medicare, on December 6 Ryan publicly announced "We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit."
How do we reconcile the two statements? Through the usual semantics—the "reassurance" only said the cuts wouldn't come through the "automatic" reductions called for by the "Pay as You Go Act"; it said nothing about attacking social programs in separate, deliberate legislation unconnected to the PAYGO Act. Mr. Ryan tends to speak in fine print, and Mr. McConnell lives in fine print.

Ryan's not the only powerful Republican in Congress determined to rip up the social contract under which we've lived for decades. Days before the Ryan-McConnell "reassurance," Senator Marco Rubio publicly said that "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." No semantics there, and no nuance, either. They are coming for those programs.

Ryan himself addressed the issue again just last week when he told a gathering of reporters, "Baby boomers are retiring and we have fewer people following them in the workforce. We have something like a 90-percent increase in the retirement population of America but only a 19-percent increase in the working population in America." He didn't explicitly say it—that small print tendency again—but he pretty clearly implied that Social Security and Medicare depend on either magically increasing the number of working people, or cutting benefits for the people who will be retiring.

And the capper comes from a Republican member of Congress who told reporters off the record that he had broached reform of what Republicans disdainfully call "entitlements" and Trump said he would not go after Social Security "until the first day of his second term." Listen to that "fine print" there—Trump said "he" wouldn't go after the programs. But if Congress should—and it will-- happen to go after them



Lee Russ

Bennington

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