Pundits like to call raising the debt limit a “partisan” issue. Raising the debt limit simply means allowing the U.S. Government to pay debts it has already incurred. For example, we are still paying for Bush’s Iraq War. Paying your debt is not partisan; it is simply ethical behavior. It is ridiculous that the debt limit exists at all.

However, the Republican Party, having failed to win a majority in the Senate or the Presidency, plans to exploit the debt limit to hold the American economy hostage. They want to force unpopular spending changes that they are unable to pass as legitimate legislation. This is precisely what they did in August 2011 after they took control of the House while lacking a majority in the Senate or the Presidency.

As the U.S. approached bankruptcy in 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time ever [1]. In October 2013, Republicans angry over the hugely popular Affordable Care Act used this tactic to shut down the federal government for 16 days. Obama was forced to make huge spending cuts that hurt ordinary Americans.

The Republican Party again holds the U.S. at gunpoint, ready to demand any radical plans their lunatic fringe may propose. The GOP Fiction Faction won that power by successfully holding hostage Kevin McCarthy’s Speaker position.

It is time to call the bluff of these domestic terrorists. Let the government default and stop paying Social Security and Medicare. I realize that tens of millions of Americans would suffer, and many would die. But it is time for Americans to learn what the GOP really stands for.

For half a century, the Republican Party has declared its desire to abolish Social Security, Medicare, and all other government programs that benefit working Americans. Republican strategist Grover Norquist wanted to bankrupt the American federal government so it could be “drowned in a bathtub,” and there would be no money to pay for social programs. Republicans call social programs “entitlements” to make them sound like undeserved handouts. The GOP intend to rob every working American of our Social Security and Medicare, which we have paid into our entire working lives [2].

Whenever the Social Security Trust Fund runs low, the GOP resists fixing it, which could be done by removing the upper limit to income that pays into the fund. Every worker now pays 6.2% of their earned income (up to $160,200, the limit for 2023) into this fund. If you earn $320,400, you pay only half that, 3.1%. If you make $1 million, you pay less than 1% payroll tax.

If this upper limit, which is a huge tax break for the rich, were abolished, the Trust Fund would be solvent for many years. Eliminating the income limit plus increasing the payroll tax from 6.2% to 6.7% would eliminate any possibility of a shortfall over the next 75 years, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service [3].

Do Republicans want to keep Social Security alive and healthy, or do they want to bankrupt it, steal our lifetime payroll taxes, and funnel our money to the rich? Watch and learn!

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-14428930

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/19/us/politics/debt-limit-economy.html

[3] https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/RL32896.pdf

Tom DeCoursey is an Oak Park resident.

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