White House Rules Social Security Out Of ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Social Security should not be on the table during negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the set of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled for the end of the year. Carney rightly noted that Social Security has nothing to do with today’s deficits:

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Social Security is one entitlement program that should be addressed on a “separate track.”

“We should address the drivers of the deficit and Social Security currently is not a driver of the deficit,” Carney told reporters today.

Lawmakers are trying to craft a deal to prevent the “fiscal cliff” from occurring, and have pulled Social Security and health care programs into the negotiations. But Social Security is statutorily barred from adding to the deficit, and is fully funded for more than two decades, unlike scores of other federal programs. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has explained, “Social Security has not added a single penny, not a dime, a nickel, a dollar to the budget problems we have. Never has. And for the next 30 years, it won’t do that.”

One simple change, raising the cap on the payroll tax so that it is applied to more income for wealthier Americans, would ensure Social Security’s funding for decades to come. But Senate Republicans — aided by wealthy CEOs — are trying to use the manufactured crisis of the “fiscal cliff” to justify cutting benefits upon which seniors and many others depend. Last year, Social Security alone kept more than 20 million people out of poverty.