The Republican Tax Plan Threatens Social Security

Charles W. Jones, International President Emeritus

Future Budget Surpluses Are Based on Taking Money from Social Security

Rob Peter to pay Paul. That's the Republican tax strategy. They want to win seats in this election, so they're offering tax cuts. They're saying that the federal budget surplus is so large everyone in America can get a reduction in their taxes.

It sounds great, but it's not exactly true. The money to pay for those tax cuts can only come from one source: Your Social Security fund.

Newt Gingrich (R-GA) won't tell you that. Bill Archer (R-TX) won't tell you that. The Republican running in your district won't tell you that. But even a brief look at the budget projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) makes it clear.

The CBO projects a combined budget surplus of $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. But every penny of that surplus is from the Social Security trust fund. Without using Social Security funds, the U.S. government will have a combined deficit of $105 billion over the next ten years. That is not my opinion or some wild guess. That figure comes directly from the CBO (August 31, 1998).

The budget surplus exists only because the federal government has been borrowing money from Social Security since 1983, when Ronald Reagan began the practice in order to hide his deficit spending. Since then, $647 billion has been borrowed from Social Security's trust fund to pay for the ordinary expenses of government. The CBO projections that show a budget surplus over the next ten years are based on the government borrowing another $1.6 trillion from Social Security.

As we all know, you can't keep borrowing from your retirement fund forever. One day, you're going to retire, and that money has to be there for you. The $647 billion already borrowed will have to be paid back some day. So will the $1.6 trillion in projected future borrowings. There are only two ways to repay those loans: higher taxes and lower benefits. Higher taxes for you and your children. Lower retirement benefits for you and your children.

The GOP tax plan uses your Social Security retirement funds to pay for tax cuts that mainly benefit people who do not rely on Social Security when they retire. According to an analysis of Gingrich's tax plan by Citizens for Tax Justice, 60 percent of the advantages from the tax cuts will go to the two percent of Americans who earn more than $200,000 a year.

Those people do not need to rely on Social Security for retirement. Newt Gingrich and Bill Archer don't need it; they have a lucrative pension of their own. Their wealthy campaign contributors don't need it. But workers do. Without Social Security, most workers cannot afford to retire at all, much less to retire with dignity.

For years, Republicans in Congress have told us they would be happy to see Social Security "wither on the vine." This tax proposal is just one more step in that long-term plan. We cannot let them get away with it.

The GOP tax cut promise is cynical and devious. They know that promising tax cuts is an easy way to win votes. They know that most people don't pay much attention to where the money for tax cuts comes from - or even who benefits most from the cuts.

But we'd better start paying attention.

Some day many years from now when your bones ache and your muscles are tired and you just don't want to go to work anymore, you're going to need that Social Security check. If you don't take steps now to counter their pernicious campaign strategy, that check may not be there for you.

Act now. Alert your families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors about this devious scheme to defraud American workers of the retirement security that Social Security funds provide.

Don't fall - and don't let others fall - for the Republican tax cut lie.