The ‘Eagle Plan’ is Republicans’ Newest Scheme to Kill Social Security

Republicans have been laser focused on destroying Social Security since President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law in 1935.

Over the past eight decades, Republicans–and even some Democrats–have drilled holes in the earned income benefit program’s guarantees in an attempt to defund, delegitimize, and starve it so they can come back to the American people and announce its failure, giving them no choice but to let hedge fund managers on Wall Street make some more cash on it.

This is what former President George W. Bush was talking about when he referred to earning “political capital” after invading Iraq to get re-elected in 2004.

Last week, the Washington Post reported on the U.S. State Department’s clandestine “Eagle Plan” to dangle in front of Americans the opportunity to borrow against their Social Security benefits as a means to supplement the one-time $1,200 check they received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Congress passed last month.

When they became aware of the scheme, Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and John Larson (D-Conn.) submitted a letter to Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Keith Krach, stating:

“In this moment of crisis, when millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and fear for their retirement, we should be enhancing Social Security, not developing policies to reduce benefits. The idea that you would ask individual Americans to sell out their hard-earned retirement security as the price of desperately-needed help during a crisis is unacceptable.”

Characterizing the move as “a secret plan to cut hard-earned Social Security benefits”, Rep. Joaquin Castro added:

“This should not be a surprise after earlier this year in Davos when President Trump said, ‘At the right time, we will take a look at that.’ Jeopardizing retirement security during a health and economic crisis that disproportionally impacts older Americans is not the ‘right time’—we should only be strengthening Social Security.”

Rep. John Larson tweeted:

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, added:

Social Security is essentially “old-age insurance” created from the ashes of the Republican Great Depression of 1929, one of Roosevelt’s myriad New Deal initiatives.

But it isn’t just for senior citizens.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides 8.9 million disabled workers with benefits.

4.3 million children also depend upon it.

According to the organization Social Security Works:

“About one in three Social Security beneficiaries are receiving disability or survivor benefits.

“Social Security is by far the nation’s most important life insurance policy, providing benefits to older persons (i.e., widow and widowers) whose spouse has died, to many younger spouses caring for dependent children, and to children whose parent has died. Social Security’s protections are estimated to have a present value of $612,000 in life insurance and $631,000 in disability insurance for a married worker who has average earnings and two children under 5 years old.”

It adds:

“Social Security works for all Americans, and it has never been more important to our economic security:

        • Sixty-one million depend on Social Security–more than 1 out of every 6 Americans.
        • Just over 3 in 5 seniors depend on Social Security for most of their income.
        • One-third of seniors rely on it for at virtually all (90% or more) of their income.
        • Social Security’s benefits are modest, but vital, averaging around $15,000 per year.
        • Social Security lifts 22.1 million Americans out of poverty. Without it, the poverty rate of our seniors would be nearly 41%; instead it is just under 9%.
        • It is an extremely efficient program, with administrative costs of less than a penny on the dollar.”

In 2015, while still a presidential candidate, Donald Trump told the conservative Heritage Foundation-affiliated publication The Daily Signal:

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”

Like all the other ways he opposed conventional Republican positions when standing amid other GOP wanna-be’s, this was just a ploy to get elected.

The fact it worked indicates how popular Social Security is and how many voters–even Republicans–favor keep it intact.

Yet at the World Economic Forum summit in January, ensconced amid a Davos, Switzerland mountaintop retreat, Trump boasted to the other global elites–if re-elected–he would entertain cutting funding for crucial social programs that include Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said:

“President Trump and the GOP can’t seem to help themselves: their core goal is to cut taxes for the rich and corporations, then turn around and try to pay for those cuts by slashing vital public services working families depend on and have spent years paying into. But this time the American people are wise to the trick and won’t put up with it.”

Let your Republican friends and relatives know what they risk when supporting a party that clearly has the oligarchs’ interests ahead of their own.

All the racism, jingoism, capitalism, cultism, and Trumpism is a smokescreen for their true intentions: to make America a feudal society subservient to the ultra-wealthy.

Image credit:

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.