In August, in a town hall in Estherville, Iowa, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said lawmakers should discuss fixing Social Security “behind closed doors.” The full context of her comments were in response to a question about sustaining Social Security for young workers from a member of the audience.
“We know that there is a point in time when we as Congress will have to address the situation, and I think it’s better done sooner rather than later, to make sure that we shored up that system,” said Ernst, R-Iowa. “So, it’s a broader discussion for another day. But I do think as various parties and members of Congress, we do need to sit down behind closed doors so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.”
Ernst’s comment has drawn criticism from liberals and advocacy groups for several reasons. And it’s more than just the partisan bickering. Ernst has, in the past, supported the privatization of Social Security. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Ernst would want to discuss solutions “behind closed doors” away from the scrutiny of her constituents.
The issue of Social Security is a pressing question for Americans young and old. It’s a question that shouldn’t be kicked down the road for another day. A 2019 report revealed that in 2020 Social Security’s costs are expected to exceed its income. To cover benefits, the program will be forced to dip into it’s $3 trillion trust fund. A fund that could be depleted by 2035. Something needs to happen, and bipartisan compromise is a quickly vanishing resource.
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Ernst’s comments come at a moment in history when trust in the government is at record lows. American’s need more transparency from elected officials. Currently, there is a lot of misinformation and fear surrounding the issue of Social Security. Solutions to this program — which impacts so much of the workforce — should be found publicly.
After all, it was only just last March when Ernst sponsored the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency Act, or COST, encouraging transparency in government spending. But transparency is apparently only a value Ernst holds when criticizing others.
On Aug. 8, Ernst wrote on her Facebook page, “Iowans deserve to know how their hard-earned money is being spent; that’s just common sense.”
If that’s true, then Iowans have a right to know how their senators are representing them when it comes to issues that affect them.