Published June 1982 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Saving Social Security West Virginia's older citizens should not be made to bear the burden of cutting our record budget deficits. That is what could have happened, though, had the Senate approved the Senate Budget Committee's recent recommendation to cut $40 billion from the social security program over the next three years. I fought against that ill-conceived "cost-saving" measure by introducing an amendment in the U.S. Senate to block the imposition of the arbitrary and unspecified cuts. Though my amendment was narrowly defeated, 53 to 45, eventually the majority of the Senate adopted my way of thinking, and the social security cuts were deleted from the fiscal 1983 budget resolution. During the Senate debate on the proposed cuts, the argument was made that the cuts were necessary to protect the solvency of the social security system. In fact, there has been considerable discussion in recent years on the health of social security, and a Presidential Commission is working now to develop recommendations to protect the system's future integrity. Certainly, we should not be talking about taking $40 billion out of the pockets of many of the people who can least afford it. The proposed social security cuts would have been grossly unfair to our older citizens, many of whom depend on the system as their sole means of support. I agree that our burgeoning budget deficits must be brought under control. But this must not be done at the expense of the social security program, the Medicare program, and other important programs that are necessary to the well-being of West Virginia's retired and elderly population. I am committed to preserving the social security system, which is so important to older West Virginians, but I do not believe we should be considering any changes to the system until the President's commission presents its recommendations later on this year.