Paul Ryan Adviser Says Cut Social Security Benefits For ‘Wealthy’ Earning $25K+ Per Year

Golden Douche Award for Paul Ryan adviser Yuval Levin, who advocates cutting social security earned benefits for "wealthy" recipients with $25K per year.


U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s Tea-bagger contingent appeared to hold out an olive branch to Democrats, shaky Republicans, and others who’ve grown weary of Congress’s ongoing budget debate, when his little-known adviser, Yuval Levin, wrote a seemingly conciliatory Op Ed piece in last week’s New York Times.

First, Levin sounds the obligatory klaxons:

“Without some kind of deal, nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts will kick in on March 1, the federal government could shut down on March 27, and the nation could default on its debts in May.”

Of course, he doesn’t bother to mention how his own party is responsible for the interminable gridlock. He goes on to make some soothing noises, as he adds:

“The two parties fundamentally disagree over the future of our welfare state, but there may be space for common ground.”

Then Levin starts talking about means-testing and brings up a proposal from Andrew G. Biggs from the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute:

“The top third of beneficiaries (by lifetime income) receive no annual cost-of-living adjustment in retirement. The middle third would get half of today’s adjustment, and the bottom third would receive the same annual increase they do now. Such a reform… would reduce Social Security spending by more than a tenth over a decade and fix the program’s long-term financing.”

Which sounds all warm, fuzzy, and reasonable until you visit the Social Security Administration’s “Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2010” and discover that the top third includes people with an income of $50,000 per year and up; and the middle third includes people making just $25,000 per year. Only a slash-and-cut, anti-47 percenter would consider someone earning  just $25K per year as collecting excessive amounts of Social Security income. Especially when we recall that senior citizens have earned these benefits by paying into the system all of their working lives. Please note that Federal Guidelines define $23,550 for a family of four at the poverty line, and many of today’s senior citizens still have children or grandchildren at home.

You can see the chart from the SSA’s Chartbook here:

Income of the Aged Chartbook

Chart courtesy of the US Social Security Administration.

As Jim Naureckas from Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting writes:

“Now, you can argue about what ‘wealthy’ is, but I think you would find pretty widespread agreement on what wealthy isn’t: $50,000 a year. If you sent the New York Times an op-ed outlining your plan to balance the budget by raising taxes on “wealthy” people who make 50k a year or more, it would be put in the same pile that gets the submissions about Elvis’s UFO diet. But when you’re talking about cutting entitlements, if you want to call those people ‘wealthy,’ that’s perfectly reasonable.”

Um … hold on a minute … that’s not reasonable at all! Naureckas adds:

“But wait! Those aren’t the only people who are getting too much from the government and need to have their benefits cut – the middle third of the elderly are also ‘wealthy’ and need their benefits cut – but by only half the rate of inflation per year. The ones making more than $50,000 must be the super-wealthy, the regular wealthy make… between $25,000 and $50,000, roughly.”

No wonder Levin’s this week’s winner of our highly esteemed Golden Douche Award.

Elisabeth Parker Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, “friend” her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, or check out her Pinterest boards. For more Addicting Info articles by Elisabeth, click here.