GOP Plan To ‘Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam In Senate
According to Common Dreams, a proposal from Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) to create new congressional committees “with the specific goal of crafting legislative ‘solutions’ for America's federal trust fund programs” is gaining support in Senate talks about the next coronavirus stimulus package.
The unfolding scenario is viewed by progressive advocates as a “stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare,” the publication reported.
Politico's Burgess Everett tweeted on Wednesday that Romney’s proposal, called the TRUST Act, "is getting a positive reception from Senate Republicans" in current GOP discussions on further pandemic relief legislation.
Republicans have begun citing concern over the federal budget deficit as justification for potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Steve Womack (R-AR) told Politico this week that the pandemic’s potential effects on Social Security warrant establishing a committee to study the issue and suggest reforms.
The TRUST Act “would give the Treasury Department 45 days to present Congress with a report on the federal government's ‘endangered’ trust funds,” Common Dreams reported. Next, Congress would “establish one ‘rescue committee’ per trust fund with a ‘mandate to draft legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves each trust fund program.’"
Common Dreams noted that activists are particularly concerned that Romney is lead sponsor on the bill:
During his 2012 presidential run, Romney proposed raising the Social Security retirement age and privatizing Medicare. Romney's running mate, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, was long considered the poster child for Republican efforts to gut what's left of America's social safety net.
And activists have been vocal in condemning the bill.
Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), told Common Dreams: "Social Security is the piggy bank that Republicans seem to go to whenever it dawns on them that we've gotta do something about the debt, notwithstanding the fact that they passed a huge tax cut that added trillions to the debt and benefited mostly wealthy individuals and corporations."
Social Security Works, a progressive advocacy group, tweeted a warning about the proposal on Wednesday: “The bill in question is the TRUST Act, and it's a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors. With seniors most at risk from COVID-19, we need to be increasing Social Security's modest benefits, not creating secret commissions to cut them.”
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, told Common Dreams in an email: "Romney's TRUST Act would create a fast-track, closed door commission to cut Social Security and Medicare. If Republicans cared about the American people, especially seniors, they'd be passing legislation to get PPE to essential workers, help the unemployed, and rush assistance to the nursing homes that are turning into death traps."