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GOP introduces plan to massively cut Social Security

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Writer

On Thursday, Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican from Texas and chair of the Social Security subcommittee, introduced legislation to significantly cut Social Security.

The bill introduced by Johnson, who was recently acting Chair of the Ways and Means committee, slashes benefits, adds means testing, and would raise the retirement age from 67 to 69.

For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security’s Office of the Actuary calculated workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink by between 11% and 35%.

Nearly every income bracket would see a reduction, save for the very bottom. People making around $12,280 in 2016 who have worked for 30 years would see an increase of around 20%. But young people making the same amount would be hit hard by the changes. If they had 14 years of work experience by 2016, they would see their benefits cut in half.

The plan would also cut entirely cost of living adjustments (COLA) for retirees earning above $85,000.

If nothing happens, Social Security will start to lose its ability to pay benefits in full in the 2030s. However, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that by 2090 it will still be paying at 74%.

Democrats, expectedly, are not pleased with Johnson’s plan, preferring strategies like increasing taxes above the Social Security cap—billionaires pay the same amount as someone making less than $118,500—or raising the Social Security tax itself. There has, however, been a bipartisan effort for a payroll tax to help keep Social Security funded. For now, Congress will deliberate on Johnson’s proposal in 2017.

Correction 12/10: An earlier version of this article stated Johnson was still the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He is no longer acting chair.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumerism, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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