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2011 SSA Budget Debate

This year, the Republican GOP has proposed significant cuts in the Social Security Administration’s 2011 budget, an action that has sparked heated debates, sending House Democrats and defenders of the Social Security program into an outrage spun with fear.

Republicans insist that the budget cuts are expedient and won’t be harmful to the Social Security Administration’s ability to function. According to them, the actual budget would be cut by only 1%, or $125 million, just enough to make an impact but not endanger jobs or require any periods of furlough (temporary shutdowns due to a lack of payroll). The GOP states that their provision allows for a less drastic cut because of also pulling $500 million in unused funds from a reserve of taxpayer money to cover budget expenses.

In spite of the GOP’s assurance that their cuts will not hurt the SSA, Democrats and other advocates for the Social Security Administration do not agree. By their math, the actual cut to the budget is actually 9.3%, and because of the need to adjust for inflation and the SSA’s increase in case loads, there will be a deficiency of $1.7 million in needed funds for programs like Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

If the cuts are indeed too drastic for the SSA’s budget, House Democrats and others are fearful that there will be a need to cut payroll, resulting in a loss of jobs at a time when the economy is still struggling from the housing, job, and stock market slump of recent years. This will not only affect government employees, but also the individuals applying for the SSA’s services, dragging the already slow processing rate to a crawl. For applicants in desperate need of benefits, longer lines and slower processing would have a personal effect. Even worse, the Democrats fear that the SSA’s cut budget will not even be enough to keep offices open.

Underneath all of the numbers and cause/effect scenarios being thrown around are the feelings of many who believe that the GOP is taking out its long-known dissatisfaction with the Social Security system out by targeting it for the budget cuts rather than cutting elsewhere. Proponents of the SSA and protectors of the elderly and those who receive disability benefits are crying out that this is more than a financial decision. It is political bias and discrimination and will result in hurting those who are least capable of defending themselves.

Regardless of the outcome, opposing views on the matter are not likely to change any time soon and will continue to cause strife in the future.