Press Release: Sam Johnson Unveils Plan to Permanently Save Social Security

Republican House Representative Sam Johnson of Texas has unveiled his plan to “permanently save” Social Security (SSA). Sam Johnson will “update” the program to secure benefits in the future by cutting average benefits 35 percent forever. Here from the press release:

Sam Johnson Unveils Plan to Permanently Save Social Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (TX-03) introduced legislation that will permanently save Social Security, ensuring this vital program continues to work for today’s workers and beneficiaries and future generations. For years, the Social Security Board of Trustees has cautioned the program is on an unsustainable path. This year, the Trustees Report warned workers will face a 21 percent benefit cut starting in 2034 if Congress does not reform the program.

The Sam Johnson plan to save Social Security eventually cuts benefits 35 percent:

Chairman Johnson’s legislation, the Social Security Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 6489), puts Social Security back on a sustainable path by modernizing the program for the 21st century, rewarding retirees and individuals with disabilities for their years of work, and improving retirement security.

Sam Johnson provides friendly bullet points to sell this new Social Security product. Web Line News adds more detail to each in brown:

The Social Security Reform Act of 2016 ensures Social Security will be there when Americans need it by:

  • Modernizing how benefits are calculated to increase benefits for lower income workers while slowing the growth of benefits for higher income workers.
  • Reducing the main benefits calculation slowly so that Sam Johnson and most of his cohorts will be out of office by the time the cuts are large enough to drive millions of seniors onto a cat food diet.
  • Gradually updating the full retirement age at which workers can claim benefits. The new retirement age better reflects Americans’ longer life expectancy while maintaining the age for early retirement.
  • Swiftly raising full retirement age from 67 to 69. What better way to celebrate a birthday or a delay in benefits than call it “updating.” Happy update to you. Also, someone needs to tell Sam Johnson that life expectancy may not be increasing.
  • Ensures benefits keep up with changes in the economy by using a more accurate measure of inflation for the annual Cost-of-Living-Adjustment.
  • Ensures benefits are reduced as the rich get richer by using a new measure of inflation [PDF] that averages .25 percent less than the current one per year AND by adding complicated means-testing for all retirees that cuts off inflation increases altogether in years that they earn over a certain amount.
  • Protecting the most vulnerable Americans by increasing benefits for lower-income earners and raising the minimum benefit for those who earned less over the course of long careers.
  • Taking money from the middle class and giving it to the poor whose other benefits — welfare, food stamps, SSI, etc. — could be cut as a result of the SSA increase.
  • Promoting flexibility and choice for workers by eliminating the Retirement Earnings Test for everyone. This allows workers to receive benefits—without a penalty—while they are working, or fully delay retirement and wait to receive benefits. For those who delay claiming benefits, they can receive increases in a partial lump sum or add it all to their monthly check.
  • Allowing people under full retirement age to collect SSA benefits on top of work while those not working take a hit. In other words, not targeting benefits for those most in need.
  • Encouraging saving for retirement by phasing out Social Security’s tax on benefits for workers who continue to receive income after they retire or stop working due to a disability.
  • Cutting taxes on high income SSA recipients to reduce benefits for others. In other words, not targeting benefits for those most in need.
  • Targeting benefits for those most in need by limiting the size of benefits for spouses and children of high-income earners.
  • Cutting benefits to families of disabled or retired middle class workers by creating a maximum benefit based upon a “hypothetical worker.”
  • Treating all workers fairly when their Social Security benefits are calculated by using the same, proportional formula that looks at all of an individual’s earnings over the course of his or her career.
  • Treating most workers fairly by reducing Social Security benefits for nearly everyone.

Beyond the Sam Johnson press release, here are a few more things the plan would do:

  • Cut SSA benefits an average of 35 percent, even more than the 26 percent cut by literally doing nothing to “save” it.
  • Reduce SSA benefits for those with other pensions even more than they are reduced currently under a new Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) calculation.
  • Provide an additional nine percent off benefits for those who collect early retirement at age 62, beyond other cuts.
  • Add a strange new lump sum option to front out money in exchange for lower benefits for the rest of a person’s life, sort of like IRAs do — undermining the basic purpose of SSA benefits, which is namely, to provide guaranteed income on a monthly basis to senior citizens.
  • Bother young people between ages 15 and 18 with additional in-school requirements and forms.
  • Allow disabled survivors to collect benefits under age 50, which just happens to affect so few people that the cost of providing this benefit is “negligible.” Thank you for the increased coverage.
  • And more! Subscribe to this SSA plan today!

See also New Bill Makes Drastic Cuts in Social Security Benefits, Even More Than Doing Nothing