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Disability Insurance Observer: Bipartisan

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I think lawmakers who want to run for public office in 2016 should pledge not to use the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund as a vehicle for getting other, unrelated legislation through Congress.

The idea of tying goodies of all kinds to an SSDI solvency bill may seem tempting, because keeping SSDI alive is a true life-or-death issue.

See also: House panel blasts disability program claim review process

Many of the glassy-eyed people sitting on the sidewalk by your office door (at least, by my office building’s door) are there while waiting for their SSDI claims to make it through the claim determination process, or, because, for good or for ill, their claims were denied.

Most will agree that SSDI is paying benefits to some people who clearly should not be getting benefits. Some libertarians question whether having any government-run disability benefits program makes sense.

But, whatever kinds of debates Congress has on the future of the SSDI program, I think it would be wrong to use either an SSDI rescue bill or an SSDI repeal bill to get funding for new roads, bridges or horticultural tax breaks through Congress.

Writing the “pay-fors,” or the provisions in a bill that help compensate for any increases in spending or projected cuts in revenue created by the main part of the bill, can be especially difficult. The SSDI bill drafters may have no choice but to be both creative and tough when they write the SSDI bill pay-fors. But they certainly should not be making any creative efforts to turn the SSDI bill into a Christmas tree.

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