Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once wrote, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Rep. Reed released a Statement on President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech. The following is his comment about Social Security.
“I heard nothing tonight about how to protect the Social Security Retirement Fund from the impending insolvency of the disability fund. It isn’t fair to raid the retirement fund yet again for what would be a twelfth time.”
Rep. Tom Reed sponsored the amendment to the House of Representatives’ rule that limits the way the Social Security funds their programs. (see the previous New NY 23rd Article.) He contends that he wants to ‘Protect” Social Security. (Read his Social Security Amendment Press Release). The words, phrases and (to be kind) misinformation presented in his comments about Social Security in President Obama’s Speech tells us something different. We’ll examine each sentence at a time:
“I heard nothing tonight about how to protect the Social Security Retirement Fund from the impending insolvency of the disability fund.”
Reading the first sentence of the statement one might not realize that both funds are part of Social Security System. Notice how he treats the two funds– he wants to protect the Social Security Retirement Fund (each word capitalized) from the and the insolvent (bad) disability fund. That was no accident. Reed is constantly belittling the fund that supports our disabled workers. He is laying the ground work, and gathering support, for his attack on Social Security.
The Disability Fund has been part of the Social Security System since President Eisenhower added it in 1957, fourteen years before Reed was born.
Let me remind you of how Social Security works:
Working Americans fund Social Security by having 6.2% deducted from our paychecks each pay period. Employers match that amount. Those deductions fund two different Social Security Programs— Old-Age & Survivors Insurance (OASI)–which Reed calls the “Retirement Fund”– and Disability Insurance (DI). Presently the Social Security Administration (SSA) puts 5.3% of your paycheck into the OAS Trust Fund, and 0.9% into the Disability Trust Fund.
In the past, when the SSA calculated that a fund would be getting low, it would adjust how the payroll deductions were divided between the two Trust Funds. They want to make sure both Funds solvent. This has happened 11 times since 1968—or once about every four years.
The Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be able to pay only 81% of the expected benefits to the disabled workers in 2016. Changing the amount that the Disability Fund receives by one-tenth of one percent would keep both Trust Funds solvent until 2033! Our payroll deduction would remain at 6.2%.
“It isn’t fair to raid the retirement fund yet again for what would be a twelfth time.”
Rep. Reed uses the term “raid” an awful lot when he discusses Social Security. “Raid” is not a neutral term. It is a negative buzz word that will rile-up support for Reed’s attack on the disability fund and disabled workers. If you check-out Reed’s Social Security Press Release you will see that he used “raid” four times. He does not want people to know that Social Security Administration does as much as possible is to keep both funds strong.
There have been 11 adjustments/raids between these two funds. In five of them, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984 and 1997, the Disability Fund rate was reduced, and the Retirement Fund was increased! Reed claims that the Retirement Fund was reduced (raided) all eleven times. Everyone who reads his Press Release assumes that Rep. Reed is telling the truth. He isn’t. To check for yourself follow the link to SS Tax Rate Table 1979-Present, or a more detailed article and chart which shows the yearly payroll deduction rates for both funds from the beginning of Social Security. Rep. Reed can’t play dumb. He is on the Social Security Sub-Committee and should have known how Social Security operates.
The two sentences from Rep. Reed’s “State of the Union” Press Release gives us enough doubt to question his real reason(s) for his amendment to the House rules. Follow this issue closely. We’ll probably see other ways Rep. Reed wants to “Protect Social Security”. It won’t be pretty.