Kevin Cramer Signs GOP Shutdown Ransom Note Threatening 122,084 on Social Security in ND

North Dakota Republican Representative Kevin Cramer joined 50 GOP Representatives in signing a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that makes Social Security cuts the latest ransom demand of the Republican hostage-takers in Congress. In North Dakota, 122,084 seniors and disabled citizens depend on Social Security payments to survive. Additionally, 7,848 North Dakota children rely on those benefits.

The letter, signed by Cramer, says that “Social Security provides us the best opportunity to begin solving our nation’s significant budget imbalances” and that “the ongoing fiscal discussions in Congress provide an opportunity to address entitlement program deficits…with our limited time frame to take action before we run up against fiscal deadlines” according to the AFL-CIO who discovered the letter and posted it online.

cramer-ss-letter

The letter says that there are only a few way in which Social Security can be gutted for the GOP’s purposes:

  • Cutting Social Security benefits with a chained CPI cost-of-living formula;
  • Raising the Social Security retirement age; and
  • Means-testing Social Security benefits.

Under chained CPI, someone retiring at age 65 would lose nearly $5,000 in Social Security benefits by age 75. By age 85, that person would lose almost $14,000. If he or she lived until 95, the loss would be more than $28,000. Making people wait until age 67 to receive Medicare would mean that people who are 65 and 66 would lose Medicare coverage under this change and would, on average, face higher out-of-pocket health care costs. Two-thirds of this group would face an average of $2,200 more each year in premiums and cost-sharing charges. 92,629 North Dakotans who receive Social Security benefits are over the age of 65.

According to the AFL-CIO, the letter spells out exactly how the GOP can use the upcoming “debt ceiling” battle to get these Social Security proposals through Congress. First, they agree to increase the debt ceiling for six weeks, then in the intervening six weeks they attach Social Security legislation to a longer-term increase in the debt ceiling. All of these ransom demands piggy-back on the current shutdown.