Personal Finance

Social Security 'is under attack,' say these congressional Democrats

Key Points
  • Cuts to Social Security would mean more seniors in poverty, a new report finds.
  • Some Democrats worry that the recent tax cuts will be used by Republicans to reduce other programs.
  • And certain demographics, like women and people of color, could be hurt even more.

The Social Security program is under attack and needs to be modernized and strengthened, according to a new report from Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, which recommends policy to Congress.

"Cuts to Social Security are not a credible solution to pay for the $1.9 trillion that Congressional Republicans have recently added to the deficit in passing their tax legislation," Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, the committee's ranking Democrat, said in a statement to CNBC. "We must ensure that our seniors are able to retire with dignity."

J.P. Freire, a spokesman for the Republicans on the Committee, said he would have a response for CNBC later.

Some Democrats worry that the recent tax cuts will be used by Republicans to make the case that there's a need to reduce other social programs.

The Social Security Administration's budget is already lower. Between 2010 and 2017, its operating budget fell more than 10 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Some Republicans are also looking at proposals that would let people borrow from their future Social Security benefits to pay for current expenses.

The report from the Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, titled "Social Security: A Promise to American Workers and Families," examines what would happen if the program were scrubbed all together.

"Without Social Security, the modern middle class would not be what it is today," the report reads. "Social Security, however, is under attack."

The elderly poverty rate would be four times as high without Social Security, with 15 million more seniors left struggling to make ends meet, it calculates.

In addition, the report looked at how the elimination of Social Security would hurt certain demographics even more than others.

One in 3 elderly Americans rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income, including 52 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of African-Americans. Since women earn less than men due to the wage gap, and live longer than men as well, they would be further set back by cuts to the program.

And it's not just seniors who benefit from Social Security. Some 5 million children live in a household in which someone relies on the program, according to the report. "In this way, Social Security helps to prevent the next generation from living in poverty," it says.

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