Will House Republicans support their Senate colleagues' plan for major Social Security cuts? Some already do.
For all the drastic spending cuts in GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed 2012 budget, there's one major government program that it barely touches: Social Security. Now Republicans in both houses of Congress are preparing to dig into that sacrosanct entitlement as well.
On Wednesday morning, shortly before Obama's big deficit speech, three Republican senators unveiled a plan to cut $6.2 trillion by paring back Social Security over the next two decades. Under a proposal unveiled by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the qualifying age for Social Security would rise from 67 to 70 by 2032, while benefits for everyone earning more than an average of $43,000 over their lifetime would be reduced. Graham took pains to explain that he wasn't pushing for privatization but also slammed any tax increases to shore up Social Security, saying such a move would "destroy America." "It's much better to give up benefits on the end side than pay taxes now," he explained.
Graham, who's long led GOP efforts on Social Security, said that he could only find two other senators to join him at the podium on Wednesday, given the political risks involved in tackling the issue. "It shows the real reluctance of the GOP," he said. And while House Republicans have made privatizing Medicare and cutting Medicaid their top budget priorities, Graham said that Social Security reform needed to be moved to the front of the queue. "It's the place to start entitlement reform. Once you fix the Social Security problem, move to Medicare," he told Mother Jones.