Republicans’ Rule A Death Sentence For 9 Million Disabled Americans

death-sentenceOver the past four years that Republicans have controlled one-half of Congress, most of their energy was focused on killing Americans’ jobs. Now that they control the entire Congress thanks to the billionaire Koch brothers, Republicans have shifted their focus slightly away from just killing Americans’ jobs to killing disabled Americans; nearly nine million disabled Americans.

That was the conclusion of the acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin during a Senate Budget Committee hearing focused on addressing the recent rule change by House Republicans forbidding the Trust from shifting funds within the program for disabled Americans. In answer to a query from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) about what the consequences are for disabled Americans if the rule change stays in effect, she said a failure by Congress to shore up the Disability Insurance Trust Fund would be deadly for its beneficiaries. Colvin said, “I don’t want to be dramatic, but I’ve worked with this population my whole career. We [would] give them a death sentence.”

Due to the House Republicans’ unilateral “rule change,” the disability fund is projected to be exhausted by the end of 2016, and if Congress fails to correct the Republican rule change beneficiaries will receive a 20 percent cut in benefits. Apparently, the Senate is taking up the issue because lawmakers are divided over how to deal with the shortfall instead of doing what they have done 11 times in the past; reallocate funds from within the Trust.

The acting Commissioner Calvin said that on average, recipients get about $1,200 a month and depend on it for paying rent, buying food and other necessities. $1,200 per month is below the federal poverty line and she noted that at that level people “are barely surviving as it is. If you get a cut there, you’re not going to be able to survive.” Colvin likely fails to realize that warning Republicans that their cuts are a death sentence for disabled Americans will only fuel their lust to kill a small percentage of the 47 percent of the population they regard as moochers and takers; disabled people.

One of the Republicans opposed to Social Security in general, and who instigated the House rule change, Tom Price, said the program needs to be cut due to rampant abuse and fraud; a lie Republicans claim about every social program. However, according to a senior fellow of federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Kathy Ruffing, Republicans like Price who claim Social Security is welfare for cheaters are doing what the GOP does as a matter of course; lying.

Ruffing said, “Republicans in Congress have systematically underfunded those efforts by the Social Security Administration and I think that the critics of the program who like to claim that it is somehow rife with fraud and abuse have a responsibility to document those claims. They are frankly wrong.” Of course they are wrong, and lying, but that is what they do naturally. Expecting them to document a lie is childish. Republicans do not document anything.

These are the same Republicans who are wont to claim Social Security is welfare in their drive to eliminate the program for their benefactors the Koch brothers. It is worth reiterating that the nation’s most popular New Deal program is a primary target of the Kochs who claim Social Security is “fraudulent and increasingly oppressive.” They have been calling for its summary repeal for thirty-five years; Republicans have hated it since its inception.

About 8.9 million people receive disability benefits from the fund and its eligibility guidelines are extremely stringent. First, it is not welfare because beneficiaries must have paid into the program while they worked at least one-quarter of their adult life, and five of the last 10 years. The overwhelming majority of beneficiaries are 55 or older, and many of them die within a few years of first receiving the insurance according to CBPP; many die while they are waiting for a determination that they qualify as disabled that may take 2-3 years and several appeals. About a quarter of recipients are mentally impaired, have muscular or skeletal problems, or suffer from diseases such as diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, congestive heart failure, and cancer; the kind of debilitating infirmities that Republicans claim make recipients frauds, abusers, and takers.

While Democrats are looking for a solution to keep the disability fund solvent now that Republicans eliminated reallocating funds within the Trust, Republicans will oppose keeping the fund solvent using any measure; especially since the Koch brothers bought control of Congress. Ms. Colvin, Democrats, and many pundits have noted and reminded Republicans that Congress previously approved 11 reallocations between the two funds on a regularly bipartisan basis. However, now that the Kochs own both houses of Congress, they intend on imposing their agenda on the nation and any sense of bipartisanship is over  because they do not own Democrats…yet.

Now that Senate Democrats are addressing the House GOP action, Republican Kelly Ayotte (NH) spoke for the Koch brothers and said it would be a dire mistake to do what Congress has done on a bipartisan basis 11 times before to preserve the solvency of the fund; and she repeated a favorite Republican phrase to justify the Republican action. She said “Congress would be kicking the can down the road” by trying to find a reasonable solution to what commissioner Colvin said was a ‘death sentence for the disabled.” Republicans want drastic cuts, privatization, raising the retirement age to 75, or following the Koch demand and just repeal what they claim is the “fraudulent and increasingly oppressive” program altogether.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that allowing the trust funds to borrow from each other will not affect either division’s solvency, but that was before Paul Ryan changed the CBO into a “trickle down rubber stamp” for the Koch brothers. President Obama proposed another reallocation in his fiscal 2016 budget last week, but Republicans want “a concrete proposal.” On Wednesday, the ranking member on the Senate Budget panel, Bernie Sanders, offered a very concrete proposal that entails raising Social Security taxes on the wealthy; a proposal Republicans will reject without blinking.

Actually, Senator Sanders’ plan is not really a payroll tax hike, but an equitable solution Republicans typically reject out of hand because it is fair for all Americans. Sanders said, “If Republicans are serious about extending the solvency of Social Security, they will join me in scrapping the cap that allows multi-millionaires to pay a much smaller percentage of their income into Social Security than the middle class.” Any individual earning over $118,500 annually exceeds the cap on Social Security withholding; millionaires pay next to nothing on their incomes. Senator Sanders saying the rich pay a “much smaller percentage” is a gross understatement, but his point is that if every American paid the same percentage, it would extend the solvency of the program into perpetuity including affording the Trust to raise benefits substantially.

However, because the Koch brothers want Social Security abolished, and the GOP rule change forbidding reallocation is just their first step in the hastening program’s demise, there will be no tax hike on the rich. Keeping the Trust solvent is of no interest to Republicans’ and the news that their “new rule” is a death sentence for nine million disabled Americans only adds to their joy at eventually killing the program for the Koch brothers.

Most Americans understand the Republicans’ goal is to kill Social Security, so it was interesting that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said that while he questions the GOP’s tactics, he still foolishly holds out hope that the Kochs will allow Republicans to reallocate money to keep the disability program solvent. Rangel said, “It’s really a stain on the reputation of this body. Thank God it doesn’t involve a crime, but it does involve the most gross misuse of political power.” Even if it did involve a crime there would be no consequences for Republicans. If there were consequences for Republican crimes, or gross misuse of political power, John Boehner would be indicted for violating the Logan Act and share manipulation in pushing the KeystoneXL pipeline. The fact that the Republican rule change is a “death sentence” for nine million disabled Americans will likely garner them greater support from their religious right base.

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27 Replies to “Republicans’ Rule A Death Sentence For 9 Million Disabled Americans”

  1. Yes, their base. The same old people wearing tea bag hats and signs demanding the government “Keep Your Hands off my Soical Security.” Those folks? They aren’t even aware enough to realize their beloved leaders are the ones dooming them to the poor house (oh wait, Reagan shut those down too.) I guess they can just go jump in a snowbank in Boston and die then.

  2. The geopigs spend their day’s obsessing about women’s vagina’s.These pigs get off thinking about taking health insurance from 10 million people,or SSD. All of of this is being done to keep their corporate masters happy and repay the millions they got from them.

  3. And this won’t sway my Disabled Veteran Father. He will blame it on The President and hate him even more if that’s possible. I haven’t spoke to him in 2 years and never will unless he wakes up. His healthcare has cost this country well over a million dollars and climbing, but he thinks access for non vets is scandalous pandering to takers and moochers. I can’t stand the hypocrisy.

  4. I just don’t get why the Koch’s want to kill Social Security. Why do they hate the American people so badly? They got all they need they don’t need to hurt others.

  5. “Ruffing said, “Republicans in Congress have systematically underfunded those efforts by the Social Security Administration and I think that the critics of the program who like to claim that it is somehow rife with fraud and abuse have a responsibility to document those claims. They are frankly wrong.” Of course they are wrong, and lying, but that is what they do naturally. Expecting them to document a lie is childish. Republicans do not document anything.”

    Ruffing is half wrong. Per GOP standards, they are not lying. If we want to be honest, there are cases of fraud in the system, just like in any system. The key here is the word “rife”. To most people this would mean a sizeable amount of fraud takes place, say 15-20%. To the GOP, one case of fraud = “rife with fraud”.

    Just like voter fraud. One possible case somewhere means that voter fraud is at epidemic proportions.

    This is GOP think at its finest.

  6. This will happen unless the family of the people with SSD standup and declare clearly to the TP/GOP. No cuts or kicking people off of SSD or we will act. The American people are the one’s allowing this tragedy to happen and they are the only one’s that can stop it with action.

  7. The Republican Party has become one of the most unAmerican groups in the country and it is all due to greed. They have become the tools of the Koch brothers and other super rich corporations and individuals.

  8. We will not let these corporate thugs get away with terrorizing America anymore. As a disabled American who receives ssdb, I have a benefit letter that states an amount I get until my death. This is a contract, just lets see them fight 59 million recipients in a lawsuit.

  9. Hopefully, there will be a backlash before it’s too late. They don’t call the Rs the GOldP for nothing.[WINK]

  10. It’s not about moving funds within the trust, the reich wing wants the funds to be moved to OUTSIDE the trust to their Koch whores because the republicans and conservatives have always believed that every cent YOU make belongs to them.

  11. Before the Reich turned their attention to the Jews they first started with the disabled to see how far the citizens would let them go.

    What will be our excuse and I didn’t know wont cut it

  12. I have so many acquaintances who will continue to vote R even though they are on disability or have relatives on SS disability ;yes they will lose it and listen to Fox and Rush and talk radio and blame it on the President and the dems ; we have become the HUNGER GAMES STORY.

  13. To the Koch brothers and the GOP/TP, this is a blood sport. These sadists enjoy watching people battle for the scraps the Koch’s and their kind deign to throw at us.

    Eventually, the GOP/TP base will realize they’ve been played for suckers, but by then it will be too late.

    These are the same suckers the NRA insists on keeping heavily armed. When they do finally rise up, it will not be pretty.

  14. The Republicans hated Social Security the minute FDR signed it into law. Even though it did not cover agricultural workers and private domestic workers (mostly blacks). FDR caved so that blacks were left out. That being said, Republicans still hated Social Security. This is not new. They’ve been trying to kill “The Great Society” since its inception.

    These old ass Republicans are willfully ignorant. They hate the Democratic Party because it is the Party of “Civil Rights”. It’s the Party to which most blacks belong. They don’t want to be affiliated with any Party that has blacks as part of its base.

    There’s not enough tea in China to make me believe that these old Republicans don’t know that Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid are government run programs. And most have never paid enough into Medicare to warrant a fraction of what they are getting.

  15. The Koch sucking Teapublicans are a danger to America and they are no better than ISIS who gets their thrill from harming & killing people.
    We must vote these heartless money hungry ,brainless & racist b@stards out of our gov’t or we are a doomed country.

  16. What they are doing is evil! The only thing is everyone needs to inform, remember, and vote next election. And choose wisely. Messing with SS is political suicide. There are too many who have seen people having to rely on this to live. Write letters and call and let them know you won’t accept this. And remember it next election.

  17. One of my cousins is on Social Security Disability. Last time I saw him he could barely walk, even using a walker.

  18. The only thing I have a problem with this article is throwing complete blame on the Koch Bros for losing last year’s election. If Democrats had not run from Obama and all the great things that were done, they could have won. At the time, jobs were up, unemployment down. With gas prices falling too. The list is much longer. Democratic leadership blew it, and sometimes I think they did it purposely. Because how do you run away from a good record like that?

  19. “Allowing this to happen?” “Only by standing up to the TP/GOP?” At what point did the majority of Congressional members start doing their job again…the job of representing the interests of their constituents? Time after time we’ve seen their blatant disregard of common good in favor of their personal vested interest, (i.e., post-Newton Congressional refusal to enact even the most basic of gun reform laws). I see nuances of Congressional Koch-fueled genocide of lower socio-economic strata, and that includes the sick. Along with drastic cuts in food stamp benefits, obstruction of affordable health care including state refusal of Medicaid and other deprivations, they seem to be executing a slow, subtle starvation of that strata – the new gas chamber. So what makes you think that they will listen to us, and how, by God are we “allowing” that?

  20. Repugnants (GOP) are the party of the mean. I’d never vote for one. If the Democratic candidate was no good, I would simply not vote.

    I was on SSD following a massive hemorrhagic stroke. It was so obvious that I would never be able to work again that my application was approved without a hitch.

    The Repugnant Party are lying about the state of Social Security. In case you don’t know what FICA means, it means Federal Insurance Contribution Act. It is like a massive savings account and it is from there that funds Social Security.

    What kills me is that I get more from my Social Security than what I would get if I were working full time at minimum wage. I EARNED it as a Ph.D. in computer science and deserve it, but the TEAliban could raise the minimum wage and thus improve the Social Security system, but they would much rather cut benefits. I wish nothing but evil for them.

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