Next Up: GOPers Dig Into Social Security

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Not content with the GOP plan to upend Medicare and Medicaid, a trio of GOP senators have unveiled a proposal to go after Social Security as well. On Wednesday morning, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) presented their plan to slash an eye-popping $6.2 trillion from the debt by reforming Social Security—all without raising taxes. How will they pull this off? By hiking the Social Security retirement age to 70 years by 2032 and reducing benefits for those who earn more than an average of $43,000 over their lifetime. The Republicans’ plan also makes sure to exclude anyone bound to retire (and vote) any time soon, by exempting those currently older than 56 years from feeling the pain.

In unveiling the plan, Graham called any kind of tax increase to shore up Social Security a non-starter and economically catastrophic. “Don’t raise taxes unless you want to completely destroy America,” he said at the Wednesday morning press conference. “It’s much better to give up benefits on the end side than pay taxes now.” Despite such extreme rhetoric, Graham and his colleagues presented their plan as a reasonably moderate option that didn’t go so far as to privatize Social Security, as George W. Bush had proposed years earlier. “You’re not going to pass a Social Security plan that increases taxes, you’re not having Social Security with personal accounts,” Graham explained.

Graham acknowledged that tackling Social Security in any form was politically toxic, noting that the trio couldn’t find any other colleagues—Republican or otherwise—to rally behind their proposal on Wednesday. “These are the only two guys we could find,” Graham said, referring to Lee and Paul, both freshmen members who rode 2010’s tea party wave. Indeed, even GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s drastic 2012 budget proposal avoids drastic changes to Social Security.

It seems like no coincidence that the GOP Senators pushed out their plan just a few hours before Obama was scheduled to deliver a major speech on deficit reduction. Lee claimed that the timing was a mere “coincidence,” as the three had been preparing the proposal for weeks. But there’s little question that Republicans know their plans will stand in contrast to Obama’s remarks today. And it’s just the latest sign of how much the GOP has succeeded in moving the goalposts on the deficit and spending in recent weeks: every time the Democrats have accomodated them, the conservative flank of their party has pushed the debate even further to the right.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate