Social Security: The 14th Amendment and “Odious Debt”

The Republican Party prepares to violate the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution:  Social Security — the 14th amendment and “odious debt”.

For decades the working people have been paying millions more than was needed into Social Security and for years the excess money has been borrowed by the government.  Presently there is almost $3 trillion owed by the government to the Social Security Trust Fund.  The Republican Party now controls the government and has a budget plan that will give less than was promised to millions of people who have paid excess into Social Security for years. ((New York Times, July 19, 2017)) This proposed budget is, in fact, a default on the debt owed to the Social Security Trust Fund and the people of the United States. The proposed Republican budget cut to Social Security is a violation of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The 14th amendment reads as follows: “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, includes debts incurred for payments of pensions….. shall not be questioned.”

For decades the politicians have not only borrowed from Social Security to run the government, but 70% of the national debt has been borrowed from banks, financial institutions, corporations and rich individuals.  The politicians borrowed because instead of taxing the rich banks and corporations, they cut their taxes.  As a result, workers’ taxes and Social Security payments provide almost 90% of the federal government’s revenues. ((The White House Office of Management and Budget, “Historical Tables”, Table 2.1)) Over decades the politicians have allowed major corporations to escape paying billions in taxes, they have given subsidies in the billions to corporations and agribusiness, and they have allowed tax breaks for the oil and gas companies in the billions of dollars. ((“Take The Rich off Welfare”, by Mark Zepezaur and Arthur Naiman, 1996, The New York Times, 3/10/17.)) The Government has also spent trillions of dollars for multiple wars and on bailing out banks and insurance companies.

Politicians have borrowed money and spent it on the military industrial complex. Over half the national budget goes to the military in spite of the fact that over the past 46 years the general population has been opposed to the government’s decision to spend so much money on the military, and have repeatedly indicated that they would rather  the money be spent on social services, healthcare and education.

A 2014 study by Princeton University came to the conclusion that the majority of the American public actually has little influence over the policies the government adopts.  The study concluded that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impact on US government policies while the average citizen have little or no independent influence.” ((“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, American Political Science Association 2014.))

Politicians now tell us that there is too much debt and they want to pay off the creditors rather than provide public service to the average citizen.  This debt is clearly against the interests of the general population.  This debt was obtained without the people’s consent and with the full awareness of the creditors. Thus this fulfills the International Legal Definition of an “odious debt”.  We, the people  have no obligation to pay and consider this debt invalid.  We will not pay this debt; the rich who benefited from this debt must repay it!

Stand together for a Stronger, Improved and Expanded Social Security!!

Dr. Nayvin Gordon is a Family Physician in California who has written many articles on Health and Politics. He can be reached at Read other articles by Nayvin.