Disability Benefits Squeezing Social Security As Politics Dominates Deficit Talk
It's August, Congress and the president are on vacation. Nonetheless, talk on the Sunday morning programs looked ahead to the future deficit negotiations by the "super committee" and the president's upcoming economics speech.
CBS News' Anthony Mason interviewed President Barack Obama: "Do you think the deficit reduction committee has any hope of reaching agreement? President Obama: ... I think a lot of it's gonna depend on whether Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell in having assigned these members to the committee stick to this notion that revenue cannot be part of any package. Because if you start taking that kind of position, if you start drawing those lines in the sand, then it's very hard to achieve the deficit reduction that we need without slashing Medicare so that seniors having to pay an extra $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 a year" (Mason, 8/21).
National Journal: "Obama’s senior campaign strategist, David Axelrod, went on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning to say the problem does not lie in the president’s policies, but rather the political state of the country. ... When asked how the proposal might address entitlements such as Medicare, Axelrod said he didn’t want to come out in front of the president’s plan, but said Obama believed 'modest adjustments' to Medicare would ultimately be necessary to keep the program viable" (Terris, 8/21).
NBC News: Gov. Mitch Daniels discussed the deficit on "Meet The Press": "We're going to have to raise a lot more revenue, and I think that means a new tax system: fewer loopholes, lower rates. But the--I think that, at this stage, if you could get such a deal, you know, the problem with these bargains in the past is the taxes are real and immediate and somehow the spending cuts never happen. ... [But] we've got to solve this problem in the interest of us all, and we ought not rule anything out in pursuit of doing that" (8/21).
The Hill: "Congress is on track to be months late in funding the federal government, despite a debt-ceiling deal that provides appropriators with an overall spending level for 2012, aides and lobbyists said. ... The supercommittee is charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts or automatic cuts to discretionary spending—the subject of the appropriations process-- are triggered in 2013. Most appropriators want to see the committee succeed in tackling entitlement and tax reform because this will take pressure off agency budgets" (Wasson, 8/21).Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports on an ailing entitlement program: "Laid-off workers and aging baby boomers are flooding Social Security's disability program with benefit claims, pushing the financially strapped system toward the brink of insolvency. Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs and can't find new ones in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs. ... The trustees who oversee Social Security are urging Congress to shore up the disability system by reallocating money from the retirement program, just as lawmakers did in 1994. That would provide only short-term relief" (Ohlemacher, 8/21).
Related, earlier story from KHN: SSI Program For ADHD, Other Disabled Kids Under Scrutiny (Gold, 8/18)