Paid Political Letter: Ettinger will defend Social Security

Published 5:38 pm Friday, October 28, 2022

Last week it was announced that the 2023 cost-of-living (COLA) increase in Social Security benefits would be 8.7%, the largest increase in over 40 years. In addition, the Medicare Part B premium will decrease by 3%.

This was good news for Social Security beneficiaries, and it highlights one of the positive features of this social safety net, inflation protection. But there are some clouds gathering on the horizon over Social Security based on some proposals presented by Republicans. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has proposed that Social Security, Medicare and all entitlements be subject to a five-year sunset provision where these programs would need to be voted on every five years.  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has suggested that Social Security be part of the yearly Federal budget decisions. GOP members of the House of Representatives have threatened to use cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a prerequisite for raising the debt ceiling.

These ideas are apparently floated with some notion of reducing the Federal debt. But for Social Security, it does not contribute one dime to the Federal debt because it is funded from the Social Security trust funds, which currently total 2.9 trillion dollars. These trust funds are projected to fully fund Social Security benefits until 2035. At that point if no adjustments are made, FICA taxes will still be able to pay 77% of benefits.

But there are several Democratic proposals to fill in these gaps by adjusting the FICA maximum contributions. Therefore, it is important that we elect Jeff Ettinger to represent us in the First Congressional District. His voice and vote will be critical not just to protect Social Security and address the actual funding issues, but also to prevent other Republican attempts to unravel our social safety nets. For example, the recent legislation that allows the government to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices is already under attack by Republicans who would like to overturn this benefit for seniors. Big pharma money still carries a lot of clout with some members of Congress. Jeff Ettinger will be a strong voice to stand up for everyone in the First District.

Dave Sylte

Austin Minnesota