The 80-year-old Social Security program has long been known as the third rail of American politics -- touch it and you die.
Last year alone, more than 59 million Americans received retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits totaling $863 billion. While some lawmakers and policy experts warn that the system will begin to run short of cash beginning in 2035, seniors’ advocacy groups have vigorously fought major changes and cuts.
Some nine out of ten people who are 65 or older receive Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration, with an average monthly benefit of $1,294 average for retirees. Overall, Social Security benefits constitute about 38 percent of the income of the elderly, but that number varies greatly from individual to individual.
For the majority of seniors, Social Security makes up the majority of their income. Sixty-five percent of beneficiaries age 65 and older get more than half of their income from the program. Nearly a third (28%) rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
The pie chart below, prepared by the staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, illustrates the range of seniors’ dependence on Social Security benefits:
The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would withhold federal Title X family-planning funding from any facility or program that provides abortions or refers patients to abortion clinics. The proposal is based on a Reagan-era rule that required physical and financial separation between taxpayer-funded operations and any abortion services. It would effectively cut off millions of dollars of funding to Planned Parenthood, which receives $50 million to $60 million in Title X funds and which services an estimated 41 percent of the 4 million patients who receive care through Title X, according to The Washington Post.
Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports that, after four election cycles of ducking, dodging and tiptoeing around Obamacare, Democrats this time around have “a unified message blaming Republicans for ‘sabotaging’ the health care law, leading to a cascade of sky-high insurance premiums that will come just before the November midterm elections. They’re rolling out ads featuring people helped by the law. And Tuesday, they’re starting a campaign to amplify each state’s premium increases — and tie those to GOP decisions.” Democrats are also focusing on rising health care costs, projected Obamacare premium spikes and prescription drug prices, looking to hang those increases on the GOP.
Economists at the Urban Institute this week released a new health-care policy proposal. The plan would leave Medicare and employer-based health care coverage in place but add a new, Medicare-style “Healthy America” marketplace with public and private insurer options for everyone else. The Urban economists say their plan “is less ambitious than a single-payer system (i.e., Medicare for All), but it would get close to universal coverage with much lower increases in federal spending and less disruption for people currently enrolled in employer coverage or Medicare.”
As for the costs, the authors estimate it would be about $98 billion in the first year.
The Washington Post Editorial Board says the proposal serves as a reminder that “there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals” for single-payer plans. “In other words, they are compassionate and realistic.” Read the Urban Institute’s plan here.
“He goes in and campaigns on an issue, and the challenge is he then talks about executing drug dealers. Why do you think the press is going to cover the tax cuts if you’ve given them the much more exciting issue?”
-- Grover Norquist, president of tax-cutting advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, on President Trump’s failure to sell the tax law.