Senator Bernie Sanders said it best when he told the crowd gathering at the Dirksen Senate Office building on Jan. 18 that the Republicans’ plan to cut the Social Security Administration’s budget by nearly half a billion “is not cost saving. It’s an effort to destroy Social Security.”
Indeed, the same politicians who want to gut America’s retirement security are the same ones who voted to give the rich and corporations a massive tax break only weeks ago.
The average Social Security check is not a lot by any means – only about $1,300 a month – but nearly two thirds of all American seniors depend on it for most of their income. How heartless one can be to take away this crucial blanket of security that keeps 22 million retirees, people with disabilities, and children out of poverty.
“Social Security is not welfare or a gift. It’s a contract,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at the rally. “America made a promise that Social Security benefits would be there when people need them. We must honor that promise and that means no cuts to SSA's budget.”
According to Social Security Works, SSA’s fixed costs are increasing by about $400 million, on top of the $492 million Senate Republicans want to cut. So the real cut is nearly $1 billion.
AFGE joined Sens. Sanders, Warren, and Bob Casey in delivering a petition signed by 250,000 American taxpayers opposing these cuts to SSA. We were also joined by the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and numerous advocates and seniors.
AFGE Council of SSA Field Operations Locals Executive Vice President Dana Duggins said Congress has created this unnecessary hardship on those who rely on Social Security as the budget process is flawed.
“Under the Social Security Act, Congress has the authority to appropriate all the resources necessary, from the SSA trust fund to run the Social Security programs,” she said. “However, it is Congress who insists on SSA competing for funds through the appropriation process, depriving the agency of the funds necessary to meet the needs of the beneficiaries and its programs. To remove SSA from the appropriation process will require a legislative change. We believe the time is now to take the politics out of funding of SSA.”
AFGE thanks Senators Sanders, Warren, and Casey, our coalition partners, and the more than 250,000 men and women who signed the petition opposing the SSA cuts. Since 2011, baby boomers are retiring at a rate of nearly 10,000 per day, which has dramatically increased the number of constituents served by the agency. And despite the growing population of American’s relying on Social Security, funding levels have remained stagnant. At the same time, Social Security has already closed 64 field offices.