No, We’re Not Cutting Social Security
Reports have circulated in recent months, mostly on questionable news outlets like Facebook etc., asserting that a Balanced Budget Amendment passed through Congress, namely H. J. Res. 2, requires money to be taken from the Social Security Trust Fund.
Claiming that balancing the budget takes money away from Social Security or Medicare is crazy talk!
I supported the Balanced Budget Amendment and I want to tell you about the facts of the Balanced Budget Amendment in an effort to address any misunderstanding arising from false claims about cuts to the Social Security Trust Fund.
According to the most recent Actuarial Status report on the Social Security Trust Funds (2018), the account is projected to distribute more money this year than it will collect for the first time since 1982. At the beginning of the reporting year there was nearly $3 trillion ($2,892,000,000,000.00) in the trust fund reserves. The Social Security Administration (SSA) projects the trust fund reserves will be exhausted by 2034 as Baby Boomers retire and live longer than previous generations, and therefore more Americans are dependent on these funds. With this, the continued income collected through taxes will only be enough to pay roughly 75 percent of expected benefits in 2034.
We are working in Congress to fix this problem. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing last month to examine the status of the Social Security Trust Fund, and the Chairmen of the Social Security and Medicare Subcommittees sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that GAO examine the operations of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees.
It is good and appropriate that we fix Social Security so that it is available for retirees. And so there is no misunderstanding, the text of the Balanced Budget Amendment makes no mention of cutting funds to Social Security or Medicare.
In fact, one could argue from a conservative perspective that the Balanced Budget Amendment would force Congress to recognize it should quit borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Funds.
The Balanced Budget Amendment would force us to tackle the tough issues instead of kicking the can down the road, placing a huge debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. For this reason, the Balanced Budget Amendment has my support, along with the support of 232 of my colleagues who share my concern about the growing $21 trillion ($21,000,000,000.00) national debt.
The amendment if adopted will control spending by prohibiting the Federal Government from spending more than it receives in revenues, except in times of war.
Spending cuts under the Balanced Budget Amendment can come from a wide variety of less worthy expenditures, and I encourage thoughtful consideration of all viable options in identifying ways to balance the budget.
Specifically, the Balanced Budget Amendment would require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress and require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber to increase the national debt limit. Additionally, the requirement for a balanced budget may be suspended in the case of military conflict.
Let us not forget that Constitutional amendments passed through Congress then require ratification by at least 38 states, or three-fourths of the country. In the case of the Balanced Budget Amendment, state ratification must occur within seven years or the amendment fails.
The Balanced Budget Amendment is not a partisan issue. Virginia and many other states already operate under similar guidelines of living within their means.
I have seen how effective a Balanced Budget Amendment can be in controlling government spending from my time as Majority Leader in the Virginia House of Delegates. In fact, it was the Democrats that crafted the balanced budget requirement in Virginia’s Constitution.
As the Founding Fathers envisioned, each Congress makes spending decisions for their time in history. Once the Balanced Budget Amendment is adopted it will be up to the Congressional leaders at that time to determine where to spend the money.
However, alleging that a Balanced Budget Amendment would force cuts to Social Security or Medicare is, as I said, just crazy talk from people who either don’t know the facts or just want to scare people.
I came to Washington to change the way our Federal Government works and I believe the Balanced Budget Amendment would create positive change.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.