Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

NOW Sees Dangerous Deficit-Slashing Season Ahead

Womens eNews - Tue, 23 Aug 2011 22:01 GMT
Author: Womens eNews
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks campaign spending, reports that the finance, real estate and insurance sectors--all of which oppose tax hikes on the country's highest income earners--have contributed more than ${esc.dollar}50 million to the campaigns of the dozen super committee members since 1990. Like O'Neill, Greenberger is worried about the super committee. "Older women who rely on their Social Security checks to survive during retirement and younger women who would have no health care without Medicaid will be in dire straits if this super committee recommends the proposals floated by the deficit hawks during the recent stalemate in Congress over increasing the national debt limit," she said. Although Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit and has sufficient funds to pay full benefits to every American for the next 25 years, the committee is expected to consider a Republican proposal to change the inflation formula for cost of living adjustments for beneficiaries. The typical 65-year-old's benefits would drop by ${esc.dollar}130 a year if this so-called chained formula were adopted. This would take a heavy toll on the 1-in-4 older women who depend on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. By age 95, the annual benefit would drop by almost ${esc.dollar}1,400, a 9.2 percent reduction from the current scheduled benefits. Two-thirds of Social Security recipients over age 85 are women. 'Cruel Ponzi Scheme' Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who has labeled Social Security a "cruel Ponzi scheme," will need the support of two Democrats on the committee to change the cost of living adjustment formula. Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan announced Aug. 16 that he would oppose cuts in Social Security to current beneficiaries because "it is hard to tell an 82-year-old that he must go back to work." However, Upton did not rule out support for a proposal by Obama's deficit reduction commission, headed by Erskine B. Bowles, President Clinton's former chief of staff, and former Republican Sen. Alan K. Simpson, that the age of eligibility for full Social Security benefits be increased to 69. Although Democratic committee members Senators Murray, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts have voted to preserve Social Security over the years, they have expressed interest in changing Social Security during the recent deficit negotiations because of concern about the impact of longer life spans on Social Security reserves. Obama singled his readiness to adopt a new cost of living adjustment formula during the debt limit talks with House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio. "The recommendation by the Bowles-Simpson commission met strong opposition from Democrats in Congress because many workers in physically demanding jobs cannot work until age 69," said O'Neill of NOW. "Unfortunately, it is going to be far easier to push proposals like this through this time because there will be no amendments to the bills considered by the House and Senate. The vote will be a simple yes or no; so many members of Congress who have strong objections to these changes will end up supporting them." Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story? Sharon Johnson is a New York freelance writer. For more information: National Women's Law Center: Center for Responsive Politics: National Organization for Women (NOW):

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus