Senators eye Social Security reforms while some in the House consider GOP cuts – AOL | NutSocia

Some senators see a divided Congress as an opportunity to tackle Social Security reforms as the program faces significant solvency problems in just over a decade.

Social security changes are a constant burden on Congress, but they’ve gained traction as some House Republicans make cuts as part of the debt ceiling negotiations.

“A wise senator said that when reforms prop up these kinds of programs, it usually takes a divided Congress,” Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told The Hill this week.

“So maybe historically that bodes well for something that would ensure Americans have a secure retirement system,” he added.

Senate Republicans generally leave debt ceiling negotiations to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

But regardless, there has been growing chatter in the upper chamber from both parties about possible ways to protect Social Security, which is estimated to be on the road to bankruptcy in about 12 years.

Reports surfaced last week that Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Angus King (I-Maine) are working toward a bipartisan compromise to help protect the program, regardless of the debt ceiling negotiations. Semafor, which broke the news, said the effort could result in an investment fund specifically designed to help shore up social security.

The senators’ offices confirmed to The Hill last week that both Cassidy and King “have been working on a legislative solution,” but said the “plan is ongoing.”

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) told The Hill Monday that she plans to meet with Cassidy later this week over a proposal when asked about the prospects of a bipartisan compromise to protect the program.

“He has a proposal and I don’t know how many senators he’s reviewed his proposal, but I’m anxious to hear about it,” she told The Hill, adding she thinks “he’s making the rounds.”

Across the aisle, Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), a key centrist, recently proposed raising the taxable wage cap for the program.

“If you want a quick fix, you have enough money for people to continue getting the benefits they deserve and have worked for, the easiest ways to increase the cap,” he told The Hill, though he not doing so would say whether the idea would get through in a divided Congress.

The Senate proposals come as House lawmakers and the White House are squabbling over whether to include Social Security and other entitlement programs like Medicare in negotiations to raise the debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders last week that her office would begin taking “extraordinary measures” to keep the US government from paying its debt, which recently exceeded the one set by Congress more than a year ago exceeded the threshold of around 31.4 trillion US dollars.

Yellen said the moves should buy Congress by early June to hammer out a bipartisan plan and spark a high-stakes fight in Washington.

Raising the debt limit would allow the government to pay for programs already approved and not authorize new spending. But House Republicans have urged that any debt ceiling measure be accompanied by significant tax reform, but the party is still working out its strategy to set demands for the coming months.

There’s disagreement over whether these reforms should include entitlement programs that gobble up large chunks of federal spending — federal data showed that Social Security alone accounted for about 20 percent of federal spending in fiscal 2022, while Medicare accounted for 12 percent.

In contrast, Democrats have instead insisted on a clean bill to address the debt ceiling, while demanding Republicans provide details on areas they plan to cut.

“When Republicans talk about draconian cuts, they have an obligation to show Americans what those cuts are and let the public react. … Does that mean cuts to Social Security or Medicare or childcare or Pell Grants?” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said Monday from the Senate.

But despite some Senate support for adopting entitlement funding reforms sooner rather than later, lawmakers and pundits have doubts about Congress’ chances of introducing legislation protecting either Social Security or Medicare in the current session.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said “ideally” reforms to the programs would be on the table for debt ceiling talks, but added that the debt ceiling “has proven to be a very poor lever for these kinds of struggles, mainly because there is very little interest in defaulting.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also expressed doubts about the likelihood of Congress reaching a bipartisan compromise and dismissed some lawmakers’ hopes as “missing the graveyard”.

“I was a member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission,” he said. “We worked for a year to put together a bipartisan bill and the Republicans left in the end. So I’m not very encouraged.”

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