Taxes

David Asman: Your Social Security checks aren't safe from the prying hands of big government

FILE: Trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia.

FILE: Trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia.  (AP)

During this month’s confirmation hearings for HHS nominee Tom Price, Democrats got on their high horses about how he’d better not ever touch Social Security and Medicare, which is our sacred right. Dr. Price, of course, agreed. But he should have pointed out that for Democrats to warn others not to touch Social Security is the height of hypocrisy. RIGHT NOW the government is grabbing money from seniors’ Social Security accounts to pay for politicians’ spending sprees.

For me, this is personal. Two weeks ago my parents’ bookkeeper called to tell me that my folks were getting about $500 less every month in their Social Security checks. I was shocked. They’re not poor, but that’s a lot of money. And most importantly it’s THEIR own very hard-earned money. Social Security is not supposed to be a welfare re-distribution plan. This is money taken every week from your paycheck that the government guarantees is placed safely in a lockbox until you retire. But that lockbox has been cracked open, and the government is now stealing my parents’ money…and I assume the money of a lot of other retirees, as well. This has to stop.

What and who is responsible for this thievery? Last April President Obama signed into law (with bipartisan support!) something called the “Doc Fix.” Politicians sold the plan as a smart way to help pay for low income Medicare recipients and children who did not have access to health care. Retired folks who report a lot of income got docked pay from their Social Security checks to supposedly pay more for “widows and orphans.”

Of course, if you believe that all the money from the “Doc Fix” really goes directly to poor Medicare patients and children, you probably still believe in the tooth fairy. But the transparency of that promise pales in comparison to the infamy of paying for it by dipping into the Social Security accounts of the elderly. If the poor and children need more government support, than lobby to tax people more for that particular purpose.

To pay for a dubious government program by taking money out of Social Security checks is both callous and dishonest.

Also, as it happens, my parents aren’t the rich people the “Doc Fix” was designed to hit. They didn’t really make a lot of money last year. The reason why they were thrust into a “wealthier” category that allowed the government to take money from their Social Security accounts is that they had a lot of expenses in 2015 that came from getting older. To pay for extra medical procedures and help while they were recuperating, they had to sell off a lot of their stock, which added to their adjusted gross income. They might have appeared wealthier on paper, but in reality the money they “made” was used for elderly care expenses. They actually live a very simple life and haven’t bought anything extravagant since my dad purchased a Mercedes Benz in 1999. And yet, they’re considered rich enough and free spending enough to afford a major cut in Social Security. And I bet they’re not alone.

To pay for a dubious government program by taking money out of Social Security checks is both callous and dishonest.

Callous, because those who are being double-taxed are Depression-era folks who worked hard all their lives, fought bravely in wars for this country and deserve far more respect and thanks than they usually receive.

Dishonest, because your Social Security account is a promissory note from the government that they are supposed to honor for life.

To break that promise is to tear at the fiber of a social contract between individuals and the government that is already dangerously thin.

David Asman joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 1997 and currently serves as host of "Forbes on FOX," a weekend half-hour program that offers an informative look at the business week (Saturday from 11:00-11:30 AM/ET). Asman is also an anchor on FOX Business Network, where he co-hosts "After the Bell" (4-5 PM/ET) with anchor Melissa Francis.