Jackson Lee: ‘Who Wants to Make a Fuss About Social Security When It's Solvent?'

By Elizabeth Harrington | December 3, 2012 | 11:16 AM EST

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D.-Texas) said last week that Republicans are being "frivolous" when they talk about reforming Social Security as a means of fixing the federal government's fiscal problems because Social Security is "solvent."

According to Social Security's trustees, the program has operated in the red in each of the last two years.

“Who wants to make a fuss about Social Security when it's solvent?” she asked on Friday. “And then who wants to make a fuss about Medicare when it's solvent until 2024?”

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In remarks on the House floor, the Texas Democrat said Republicans have a “frivolous perspective” on the fiscal cliff--a term that describes the expiring Bush-era tax rates and the automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending that are set to take place at the beginning of 2013 unless Congress can agree on another plan.

“So rather than take, if you will, a frivolous perspective on this, rather than tell people that you can’t do anything before 2013, rather than suggest that entitlements are laid upon the table, on the altar as a sacrifice, just tell the American people the truth,” Jackson Lee said.  “Let’s just tell them the truth.”

“Entitlements is not the issue,” she said. “And if so, cool heads can sit down and engage the American people and tell us how many seniors in nursing homes do we want to throw out in the street?  What options do they have?

“Maybe we can begin to talk about home care,” Jackson Lee said.  “That’s okay, but you don’t talk about home care overnight.

“So, you have to be deliberative,” she continued.  “And then who wants to make a fuss about Medicare when it's solvent until 2024? Again, abusing the information given to the American people.”

“Who wants to make a fuss about Social Security when it's solvent--and it’s about, You earned it?”

Social Security will exhaust its so-called "trust fund" in 2033. But this "trust fund" is made up of IOU's that the Treasury has given to the Social Security Administration in exchange for money that the Treasury took historically from Social Security payroll tax revenues and spent other things than Social Security.

According to an April 2012 report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the program ran deficits in 2010 and 2011, and, in order to pay all Social Security benefits, the federal government needed to increase the federal debt by borrowing money in the market.

The trustees reported that, in its current state, Social Security will be in the red virtually in perpetuity.

“Social Security’s expenditures exceeded non-interest income in 2010 and 2011, the first such occurrences since 1983, and the Trustees estimate that these expenditures will remain greater than non-interest income throughout the 75-year projection period,” the report said. “Redemption of trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury will provide the resources needed to offset the annual cash-flow deficits.”

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