By Representative Gene Green
Along with much of the nation, I was disappointed to see that the congressional supercommittee's deliberations did not result in a deficit reduction plan. As a result, automatic cuts will be implemented across all federal government agencies, with 50 percent from defense spending and 50 percent from domestic programs.
I hope that Congress comes together to come up with a more sensible approach than allowing across-the-board cuts. Although Social Security is off the chopping block for this sequester, I am still concerned that future plans may include cutting funding to Social Security or reducing benefits to shrink the federal deficit.
Social Security is fully self-funded through the taxes that you, employers and I pay from our paychecks. This revenue stream is separate from the federal tax dollars used to fund all other federal programs, so it isn't right to cut Social Security benefits since beneficiary payments do not contribute to the federal deficit. In fact, the federal government has borrowed and owes the Social Security Trust Fund about $3 trillion.
To control the federal deficit, we must look at cutting spending and increasing revenue - cutting spending alone will not get us close enough. We had a balanced budget in 1999 and 2000 under a Democratic president and a Republican Congress and I think we can do it again if we roll up our sleeves and work together to increase jobs, increase revenue through making the wealthiest Americans pay the same taxes that our middle-income citizens pay, and cutting government spending.
We can do all this without having to endanger the Social Security Trust Fund or cut benefits to the current or future beneficiaries of Social Security.
Social Security will need to be reformed in the coming years to extend its solvency past the year 2036, which is how it stands today. However, these reforms should be done in legislation separate from our efforts to balance our budget.
What we need to do is cut unnecessary spending on other federal programs, and increase revenue by creating jobs and putting people back to work. That way, they can become financially stable enough to not need government assistance like unemployment insurance or Medicaid, and they can start paying taxes into our system.
As Congress continues to look at ways to reduce our deficit, we need to remember that Social Security is not the problem or cause of our $15 trillion debt.
Social Security has been around since 1936 and I hope that it will last for my children and grandchildren. However, it will not last if the government continues to borrow from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for growing government expenses.