The Strangest Social Security Cut

The most regressive way to cut Social Security is to raise the retirement age, but the strangest is the one Brian Beutler reports on, a House plan to cut the Social Security Administration’s administrative budget:

The Republicans claim the cuts amount to about $1 billion below what President Obama requested. But when dig in deeper, Democrats have found the cuts add up to about $1.7 billion — a hefty chunk of SSA’s operating budget.

This includes rescinded stimulus funds, and the $500 million SSA currently has in its reserve account to meet legal requirements and other operating expenses.

This comes at a time when the Social Security Administration is already stretched thin. SSA is operating under a hiring freeze because its current allocations are too low. Democrats warn the cuts would cause blackout periods in SSA’s operations, and create a huge backlog of claims across the program.


Love it or hate it, Social Security is a pretty lean, mean, check-writing machine. Money comes in through payroll taxes and it comes out through checks. It’s practically automatic. But of course it’s not 100 percent automatic. It does need a few human beings to run it. But thinking that it’s somehow smart to try to trim the fat here is bizarre. Actually reducing the quantity of money in the checks would make old people mad but also save a ton of money. Gumming up the administration of the check-sending process packs a lot of oldster-aggravating punch but barely gets you anything. It’s weird.