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Republican effort to slash Social Security program fails

All state Republicans vote for amendment that would have decimated program


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 16, 2018) — When he leaves Congress after this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) legacy will be his repeated attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare while providing massive tax handouts to billionaires and corporations.

Last week, Washington state’s entire Republican congressional delegation demonstrated that they share those goals.

On April 12, the House dusted off its Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) that would require the federal government to approve budgets that spend no more than incoming revenue. Washington state Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th), Dave Reichert (R-8th), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) and Dan Newhouse (R-4th) all voted for it, but the 233-184 vote failed to get the two-thirds majority required.

At best, it was a symbolic election-year vote for Republicans to declare that they support fiscal responsibility after approving $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich that will dramatically increase the nation’s budget deficit. At worst, had it actually been approved, it would have required dangerous cuts to Americans’ earned Social Security benefits and enshrine those cuts into the constitution.

House Democrats who voted against the BBA — including all of Washington state’s delegation — were livid, especially that Republicans continue to describe the Social Security and Medicare benefits that Americans pay for their entire working lives as “entitlements.”

During debate on the BBA last week, Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) had this to say:


The attempt to cut Social Security should come as no surprise given that Republican leaders have said all along that they plan to cut “entitlement programs” like Social Security and Medicare to pay for their tax cuts. Back in December, Washington state’s labor unions ran full-page ads in daily newspapers across the state warning that this was their plan:

Even before their tax giveaway has passed, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said, “You also have to bring spending under control… The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says he wants Republicans to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on “entitlement” programs, including Social Security and Medicare. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said that House Republicans will soon turn toward “tackling the entitlements.”

Entitlements. That’s what some politicians call the Social Security and Medicare benefits that you’ve paid for your entire working life. They are planning to cut those essential benefits that you earned for your health care and basic necessities. Why? So they can pay for trillion-dollar tax cuts for the wealthy.

After last week’s BBA vote, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers criticized House Democrats for opposing the measure, decrying their “obstruction” and for “protect(ing) the status quo,” but never mentioning the cuts to Social Security that the BBA would have required.

Similarly, Rep. Dan Newhouse, who co-sponsored the BBA, said it would require “tough decisions necessary to control spending” but didn’t elaborate on what they would be.

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