Ross: Don’t fall for a phony debt crisis, Social Security isn’t going away

Nov 15, 2022, 8:08 AM | Updated: 10:25 am
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and members of his staff walk to a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer's office in the U.S. Capitol on November 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. McConnell and Schumer are meeting to discuss the upcoming debt ceiling following the release of a Treasury Department letter saying the new deadline for default is Dec. 15. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sometime in 2023, the United States is going to hit its debt limit … again.

And the New York Times has counted at least five key House Republican leaders who are ready to risk throwing the nation into default unless they get changes in Social Security and Medicare.

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I’d like to think this is an empty threat – since, in the past, Congress has always swerved to avoid the oncoming car at the last second. But who knows anymore, right?

So I’m asking any of you who have influence with Republican members of Congress – any billionaire donors who may be listening – to urge them not to do this.

Because we already know what will happen. If the U.S. even gets close to defaulting on its debt, interest rates go up on top of what the Federal Reserve has already done.

Then the stock market tanks, and the cycle of political revenge spirals – and all for nothing, because Congress will never vote to cut Social Security or Medicare payments. Not even Republicans.

Why not? Because the idea of cutting benefits scares older Americans.

People over 65 have, by far, the highest voting rate of any demographic group! Here in Washington, it’s an amazing 82%. For comparison, the voting rate of the 18-24 age group – is a pathetic 37%.

What most older people don’t know is that if nothing is done and the money runs short, Social Security benefits get cut automatically, which could happen in about ten years.

I think a compromise is possible – but it can only happen if both parties share the political risk. So compromise! At least on this one issue. There are plenty of other issues where you can still beat each other bloody for the cameras: you’ve got culture wars, climate change, pronouns, Twitter – but don’t stage a phony debt crisis over benefits for old folks when you know full well you’ll have to maintain those benefits if you want to get re-elected.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Don’t fall for a phony debt crisis, Social Security isn’t going away