By Vicki Needham - 02/18/11 04:01 PM EST
House Republicans have proposed cutting SSA’s administrative funding from $11.8 billion in 2010 to $10.7 billion in 2011, a cut of 9.3 percent.
In addition, the Republican proposal provides for $1.7 billion less than SSA needs to keep pace with inflation and rising workloads, according to Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Clary notes that the SSA commissioner hasn't called for furloughs.
House Ways and Means Republicans countered that they're proposing only a 1 percent cut, or $125 million, to the administrative budget for SSA and that wouldn't cause a shut down of SSA or the need for furloughs.
The Republican budget proposal would also reclaim $500 million of unused taxpayer dollars from a separate "reserve" fund, leaving a remaining balance of $371 million that account.
Despite the discrepancy in budget-cut numbers, Democrats are consolidating support against spending reductions for the agency.
"Threats of a Social Security shutdown are real," said Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee ranking member Xavier Becerra. "With $1.7 billion in reckless and shortsighted cuts being proposed for the Social Security Administration’s operating budget, employees are now being prepared for a furlough.”
Becerra warned that if Social Security field offices are closed, claims won't be processed, creating a backlog of cases.
"Social Security didn’t get us into this mess, and we must divorce it from the deficit reduction debate."
On Thursday, Becerra said while Social Security needs to be reformed to pay benefits after 2037, there is no crisis that means it has to be done now.
President Obama's debt commission recommended reforming Social Security even though it acknowledged that the program, unlike Medicare and Medicaid, is not driving up the national debt.
Ways and Means ranking member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) joined Democrats in expressing concern about the possible cuts.
“There are few budget cuts more irresponsible than
those that fall on the backs of our seniors and people with
disabilities, yet that’s exactly who this Republican proposal would end
up hurting," he said.
Updated at 12 p.m.