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Rep. Reid Ribble, Published November 18 2013

Letter: Critic ignored the facts

A Nov. 10 letter to the editor was published in The Forum attacking Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. Its author, Rande Zander, stated that Cramer signed my letter outlining potential reforms to preserve Social Security.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There were so many inaccuracies in Zander’s letter that there’s insufficient space to address them all here. But two of the most egregious falsehoods cannot be allowed to stand as fact.

First, Cramer never signed the letter Zander claims he did. I worked with Cramer, along with other members of Congress, on a letter to Speaker John Boehner stating that we use this unique time to save Social Security from insolvency, not gut it. The letter made no specific policy recommendations; it simply stated the fact that Social Security is going bankrupt and the longer we wait to save it, the worse off Social Security – and the millions of American seniors who depend on it – will be.

Separate from the letter Cramer signed, I delivered my own letter offering up my thoughts on potential ways to save and secure Social Security for today’s seniors as well as future generations. This letter was mine and mine alone. Cramer did not see it, sign it, nor was he asked to sign it. I wanted Boehner to know my thoughts, which is why it was only from me and why I specifically wrote in the text of the letter that, “These thoughts are mine alone. …” Zander deceptively overlooks this fact and attaches Cramer to a letter he didn’t even know existed. Even in today’s overly politicized atmosphere this is an outrageous attempt to mislead.

Second, the author states I want to lower the payroll tax cap for Social Security. In fact, I favor adjusting the cap up to 90 percent of payrolls or to approximately $215,000 – roughly doubling the current payroll tax cap of $115,000, or 83 percent of payrolls. During the 1980s, the tax cap averaged 90 percent of wages. But the payroll cap hasn’t kept up with the times. It has been falling since the Reagan era. I believe adjusting the cap back up to its Reagan era level of 90 percent will help save Social Security for future generations and help ensure this vital program isn’t underfunded.

American seniors are living longer and they depend on Social Security more than ever. I want to make sure seniors have their benefits today and 75 years from now. But the author attacking Cramer and me basically calls for doing nothing. Doing nothing means the Social Security Trust Fund goes bankrupt in less than 18 years and ensures seniors will lose many of the benefits they rely on. We can’t stick our head in the sand and allow this to happen.

Lies and deception about policy options don’t help preserve this program for current and future seniors. Instead of spreading falsehoods and manufactured political attacks, Zander should work to be part of the solution. We need more grown-ups and fact-based discussion in the policy arena today, not less.

Ribble, R-Wis., represents Wisconsin District 8 in the U.S. House.