Planning Trump's Agenda, Heritage Foundation Slates Huge Social Security Cut

Planning Trump's Agenda, Heritage Foundation Slates Huge Social Security Cut

Paul Dans of Heritage Foundation's Project 2025

Heritage Foundation, Once Reputable, Veers Toward Far-Right Fringe

The Heritage Foundation, which has played a central role in organizing the planned extremist takeover of the federal government known as Project 2025 for the next Republican president, is now calling for the Social Security retirement age to be raised to 70. Heritage fearmongered about a possible future benefit cut in order to argue for cutting benefits now.

On May 6, the Social Security board of trustees released their annual report outlining the short- and long-term financial projections of the Social Security insurance programs serving retirees, survivors of deceased workers, and people with disabilities. This year, the report actually noted that the program’s long-term financial outlook had improved somewhat over the past year. According to the report, with no changes to current law, the retirement trust fund will continue to be able to pay out full benefits until 2033, at which time the trust fund will become depleted and would require an across-the-board benefit cut of 21% in order to reflect the amount of Social Security revenue still coming in.

A June 17 Heritage Foundation post used this possible future benefit cut to demand that more immediate cuts to benefits be made by raising the retirement age and changing the program’s inflation adjustment:

If Congress does nothing to address Social Security’s shortfalls, benefits will be cut by 21 percent, across the board beginning in just nine years—in 2033. That means that anyone who is of Generation X or younger will not receive a single full benefit. Even Baby Boomers and Silent Generation retirees will be subject to cuts.

To restore Social Security’s intent, policymakers should gradually increase the normal retirement age from 67 to 69 or 70—moving the age up by one or two months per year—and index it to life expectancy.

While updating Social Security’s retirement age is an important component of reform, it would only solve about 20 percent to 30 percent of the program’s shortfalls. A more accurate inflation adjustment would solve another 20 percent to 25 percent of the program’s shortfalls.

Heritage also waxed poetic about the virtues of people spending longer in the workforce, with Roe Institute senior research fellow Rachel Greszler arguing that “older workers’ wisdom and experience provides an invaluable insight and mentorship to younger workers.”

However, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained prior to the release of this year’s trustee report, raising the Social Security retirement age would have the effect of cutting benefits by about the same amount as the projected 2033 benefit cut under current law:

The irony of that argument is that over time, raising the retirement age would yield the same result that they purport to want to avoid — a large, across-the-board benefit cut. Raising the retirement age to 70 would ultimately cut average lifetime benefits for new retirees by nearly 20 percent, whereas if Social Security’s reserves are depleted, congressional inaction would force a 23 percent cut for all beneficiaries.

Calls by The Heritage Foundation to reduce Social Security benefits should raise alarm bells. Heritage is not just some right-wing think tank; it is the driving force behind Project 2025, which aims to radically change the federal government in numerous regressive ways should former President Donald Trump win his reelection bid in November:

The Heritage Foundation’s nearly 900-page policy book, titled Mandate for Leadership: A Conservative Promise, describes Project 2025’s priorities and how they would be implemented, broken down by departments in the federal bureaucracy and organized around “four pillars that will, collectively, pave the way for an effective conservative administration: a policy agenda, personnel, training, and a 180-day playbook.” Written primarily by former Trump officials and conservative commentators connected to The Heritage Foundation, these proposals would severely inhibit the federal government’s protections around reproductive rights, LGBTQ and civil rights, climate change efforts, and immigration.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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