GOP Plan to Cut Social Security-Reported as Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

GOP leaders and/or President-elect Donald Trump plan to “massively cut” Social Security by raising the retirement age to 69 and taking other steps in order to save Social Security have gone viral.

The Truth:

A GOP lawmaker has introduced a plan to save Social Security by cutting benefits — but resident-elect Donald Trump and other GOP leaders don’t appear poised to massively cut Social Security in the near future.

In light of a Social Security Board of Trustees report that Social Security would become insolvent by 2034, Republican Congressman Sam Johnson released a “plan to permanently save Social Security” on December 8th, the last day of the 114th Congress.

Johnson said his plan to save Social Security was intended to start a “fact-based conversation” when Congress reconvenes next year. The plan includes seven proposals, several of which would increase the full retirement age to 69, reform how benefits are calculated, and slow benefit increases by linking them to rate of inflation:

“For years I’ve talked about the need to fix Social Security so that our children and grandchildren can count on it to be there for them just like it’s there for today’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Sam Johnson said. “My commonsense plan is the start of a fact-based conversation about how we do just that. I urge my colleagues to also put pen to paper and offer their ideas about how they would save Social Security for generations to come. Americans want, need, and deserve for us to finally come up with a solution to saving this important program.”

It wasn’t clear if Rep. Johnson intended for the plan to be voted on by Congress, or if it was meant to be a place to start a conversation about how to save Social Security. The plan did, however, stir panic that the GOP was going to save Social Security by imposing massive cuts.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan released “A Better Way,” a GOP policy blueprint earlier this year. Among other policy proposals, A Better Way lays the groundwork for privatizing Medicare by turning it into a voucher program. However, A Better Way does not outline a GOP plan to save Social Security — which could signal that Ryan did not intend on doing so in 2017.

As for Donald Trump, he’s been fairly consistent about the need to save Social Security. Throughout the campaign, Trump said he would be unwilling to cut or gut Social Security and was instead focused on maintaining it through economic growth. In July, Trump told AARP he’d save Social Security by growing gross domestic product (GDP):

“If we are able to sustain growth rates in GDP that we had as a result of the Kennedy and Reagan tax reforms, we will be able to secure Social Security for the future. As our demography changes, a prudent administration would begin to examine what changes might be necessary for future generations. Our goal is to keep the promises made to Americans through our Social Security program.”

During a Republican primary debate in South Carolina in February 2016, Trump indicated that his plan to save Social Security would also center on eliminating waste and fraud:

I’m going to save Social Security. You have tremendous waste, fraud and abuse. We have in Social Security thousands of people over 106 years old. You know they don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less. We’re bringing jobs back.

During another debate with Hillary Clinton in September, Trump said he would be ok with limiting Social Security for the country’s richest people to help save Social Security. And in 2013, Trump said the GOP could not change Medicare and Social Security and still win elections.

Finally, in his 2011 book “Time to Get Tough,” Trump wrote that Social Security isn’t an “entitlement,” it’s honoring a deal:

Social Security faces a problem: 77 million baby boomers set to retire. Now I know there are some Republicans who would be just fine with allowing these programs to wither and die on the vine. The way they see it, Social Security and Medicare are wasteful “entitlement programs.” But people who think this way need to rethink their position. It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth — that’s not an “entitlement,” that’s honoring a deal. We as a society must also make an ironclad commitment to providing a safety net for those who can’t make one for themselves.

Social Security is here to stay. To be sure, we must reform it, root out the fraud, make it more efficient, and ensure that the program is solvent.

Same goes for Medicare. Again, people have lived up to their end of the bargain and paid into the program in good faith. Of course they believe they’re “entitled” to receive the benefits they paid for — they are!

So, GOP leaders haven’t indicated that they have plans to save Social Security by cutting benefits in the near future, and President-elect Trump has fairly consistently defended Social Security and spoken against cuts. For now, we’re reporting claims that the GOP plans to massively cut Social Security as fiction.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 12/12/2016

Does the GOP plan to massively cut Social Security?