House Republicans are changing the rules
What was your New Year’s resolution? Was it to improve your grades? Maybe to lose weight? Or are you finally going to finish that book you were working on? Regardless, I’m sure those of you who haven’t given up already have been hard at work since day one. Well, so has our Republican-controlled Congress, and unfortunately, while you were focusing (or giving up) on your individual goals, they were working on their goals and have thus far succeeded. And at the top of their to-do list was the undermining of Social Security.
The Republicans in the House of Representatives are targeting one section of Social Security in particular: Social Security Disability Insurance. On the first day of the new Congress (whose members were elected by those of us who voted this past November), the House had to approve the set of rules it would follow for the next two years. The House is currently under a Republican majority, so these rules must have had the approval of most of these Republicans because they were passed with a majority vote. Included in these rules was one that banned the House from even considering any proposed legislation that would transfer money from the main Social Security Trust Fund into the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. This rule is a major issue because even though it will only be in effect for the next two years, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is predicted to run out of money by the end of next year.
Let’s observe how Social Security Disability Insurance has operated for the past several decades. The money for Social Security benefits is stored in two separate accounts. The main account is the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the other is the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. As the official website explains, “Social Security taxes and other income are deposited in these accounts, and Social Security benefits are paid from them. The only purposes for which these trust funds can be used are to pay benefits and program administrative costs.” Typically what happens is that if the Disabilities Fund runs out of money, then money can be transferred from the main Social Security Fund. It is similar to making a transfer from your savings account when your checking account is low. This kind of transfer has been made 11 times throughout Social Security’s existence. And on top of that, the main fund currently has about $2.8 trillion, which basically translates to financial security for at least another 18 years.
Given this context, we can properly analyze the latest development in the House of Representatives. This issue is not a matter if the fund goes broke within the next two years. It will go broke within the next two years, and these members of the House must have been aware of that. They must have known that if no transfers are allowed to be made, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to the disabled would be cut. More than nine million fully disabled Americans could receive significantly less from our government because certain people that are supposed to represent us and our interests decided to let the fund run out of money. This is a sneaky political move because it was done so inconspicuously. They didn’t pass a law. They passed a rule preventing them from passing a law.
The most disappointing part of this whole issue is the lack of coverage it is receiving in the mainstream media. A search for this news online will bring up articles that explain everything that has been discussed so far. Because of this rule’s limited scope in the House, neither the Senate nor the President can pass legislation to directly reverse this rule. That hasn’t stopped Democrats in the Senate from speaking out against this rule, but the Republicans behind this plot are effectively operating under the radar of mainstream news. But the silver lining is that we the people can change this. Just as the House put forth this rule, they can take it back. It is up to us to exercise our civic duty to contact our elected representatives in the House and tell them we won’t tolerate enacting malicious rules behind our backs that target the innocent and the vulnerable. Please stay informed by searching online for alternative news sources that cover issues like this, and please spread the message to all your family and friends because many of us probably have loved ones that will be directly affected by this issue.
Brandon Diaz-Abreu is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in computer science.