(Politico) – Like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, House Republicans kick-started a bigger fire than many imagined with an opening day rules change that revived Social Security as a hot issue for this Congress — and the 2016 presidential elections.
The GOP’s immediate target is Social Security’s sprawling disability insurance program, which has grown at a pace far beyond its revenues and will exhaust its trust fund reserves by December 2016, threatening a 19 percent cut in benefits.
In the past, Congress has simply shifted revenues from Social Security’s larger retirement account to fill holes in the disability fund. But the new House rule throws up a roadblock by creating a point of order against any such bill that does not improve the “actuarial balance” of the combined funds.
“What we want to do is not kick the can down the road anymore,” said Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who promoted the change as chairman of the Social Security panel on the House Ways and Means Committee. “The rule is intended to get the Congress to at least take a first step toward solving the Social Security problem. If we continue the way we are, it’s a go-broke operation.”