Like all presidents that have come before him, President Obama has faced significant criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. But one of his most recent decisions, buried in the 2015 budget proposal, threatens Americans who largely stay out of the limelight and don’t always have the political representation they need: Those collecting disability benefits.
In his 2015 budget proposal, President Obama has proposed a way to save money by preventing individuals from collecting both Social Security disability benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time. Thankfully, the proposal was noticed by some in the media who were more than a little critical of the move and of the way that beneficiaries often get portrayed.
One very vocal critic was author Michael Hiltzik, who is a business columnist for the L.A. Times. In a recent column, Hiltzik noted that collecting both SSD and unemployment benefits is not “double-dipping,” is not a get-rich-quick scheme and is perfectly appropriate for individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for both programs. Moreover, he argues, the estimated savings over ten years would add up to such a tiny fraction of the total projected spending as to be almost unnoticeable.
Perhaps Hiltzik and others are sharply critical of the proposal because it seems contrary to the values usually espoused by President Obama and other Democrats. Critics may also be trying to combat a false but oft-repeated media narrative that those who receive government aid are somehow lazy, dishonest or both.
In either case, we can be thankful that Social Security disability beneficiaries have advocates willing to speak truth to power and a very public platform for their important message.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “The attack on the disabled buried in the president’s new budget,” Michael Hiltzik, March 5, 2014