Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Children and seniors at risk in Conrad-Gregg

Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have introduced a bill in Congress to establish a commission made up of a group of people (mostly from Congress) that would produce a plan to reduce the federal deficit. Congress would then have to vote on the proposal with no opportunity for amendments. Effectively the commission would have the ability to alter all federal policy with limited democratic input. Proponents of the commission frequently say the establishment of the commission is necessary for the future of children in the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The commission is a potentially dangerous vehicle to cut programs like Social Security and Medicaid that serve some of the most vulnerable young people in this country. Social Security, specifically targeted by Conrad-Gregg keeps 1.3 million children from falling into poverty. Additionally, six and half million children in the United States receive assistance from Social Security’s survivors benefits program. These are vulnerable children who have lost a parent and who might otherwise be at risk of slipping into poverty.

Contrary to their alarmist rhetoric, Social Security is not even contributing to the federal deficit. The program is still running a surplus (yes, a surplus). In fact, according to the last Social Security trustees’ report, Social Security will continue to run a surplus until 2023 and will build its reserves to $4.3 trillion. Social Security deserves the consideration of experts that understand the program and its history and know how to strengthen it for future generations – not a 16-member commission.

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