DIANTE JOHNSON: Keep Social Security Out Of The Gov’t Shutdown Drama

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Diante Johnson President and Founder, Black Conservative Federation
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The country has become all too familiar with the funding drama that plays out on Capitol Hill year after year. Congress fails to pass the necessary appropriations bills using regular order in a timely manner and then, as the holiday season approaches, Democrats and Republicans bluster and argue over what should and should not be funded in the eleventh hour as a potential government shutdown looms.

Often, a last-minute agreement is reached a few days before Christmas. This year, Congress outdid itself, kicking the can down the road to deal with funding problems in January and February of the new year. 

Frequently during these conversations, you’ll hear lawmakers call for cuts to programs they think are problematic, or the need for gimmicks like a “debt commission” to address out-of-control federal spending, and all too often, Social Security gets lumped in.

What commonly gets confused during government funding talks is Congress’ role in Social Security. While the House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Subcommittee on Social Security each have jurisdiction over Social Security programs and the manner in which they operate, Social Security is not funded through general revenues. Instead, Social Security is funded by hardworking, tax-paying Americans who pay into the program throughout their lives. While the Social Security program does indeed have challenges, those challenges are distinct from the larger conversation about how much our nation spends in a given year. 

We are seeing this confusion play out in real time. In the wake of Mike Johnson’s election as House speaker, there’s been increased talk in Republican circles about establishing a “debt commission” to address the nation’s skyrocketing deficit. If Johnson’s track record as chairman of the Republican Study Commission is any indication, a debt commission could very well introduce a plan that recommends cuts to Social Security and bypasses the regular committee process.

I think most Americans would agree that federal spending is out of control, with the current deficit sitting at about $1.7 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. But gimmicks like eleventh-hour closed-door negotiations and debt commissions are not the answer. And certainly, Social Security should not be put on the chopping block.

Right now, the Social Security Administration estimates that 67 million Americans are receiving Social Security benefits. This is a critical program that deserves attention from lawmakers who are committed to making sure it remains viable for generations to come. If Congress could function the way it’s supposed to and find responsible and timely ways to fund the government, no one in Washington would be thinking about cuts to Social Security, which provides benefits our nation’s seniors have often paid for and earned. 

Americans are sick and tired of Washington’s government shutdown game and all the baggage that goes with it. Congress should buckle down and do its job by finding a way to fund our government while protecting valued programs like Social Security upon which millions of voters depend. If lawmakers can’t do any of that, voters on both sides will remember it when they go to the polls this time next year.

Diante Johnson, President and Founder of the Black Conservative Federation, an organization of professionals, activists, and Americans, advocating on behalf of the conservative platform as it relates to the black community and the policies that govern it.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.