WARNING: This article is only for people interested in the boring facts of the political process. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, just skip it and move on.
So, there are several articles, blogs and videos from conservatives that have been going around since Friday October 30th claiming that late at night on the 29th, “WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING”, Senate Democrats passed a law that will “STEAL $### (M/B)ILLION FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY FUND”, and that Senators Rand “My sociopath daddy named me after his sociopath goddess” Paul and Ted “I’m a birther who may not have been born a natural citizen but is running for president anyways” Cruz “heroically” fought to stop it, accompanied by a video of Paul grandstanding with a bunch of empty seats behind him, to further imply that the vote was done in the wee hours of the morning so that nobody who would oppose it would be there to vote.
So, how are they full of shit? Let me count the ways:
First, none of these articles have a consistent amount that they claim is being stolen from SS. I’ve seen numbers ranging from 800 Million to the 150 Billion. If there was any legitimacy to this claim, and facts to back it up, you’d think they would at the very least know whether it is hundreds of Millions or hundreds of Billions that are getting stolen. Not knowing AT LEAST the magnitude is rationally a pretty sure sign that what they are saying is a load of hogwash.
Second, they’re claiming that those dirty liberals intentionally held the vote at night so nobody would be there to contest it and nobody would notice. About that…
Senators Paul and Cruz tag-teamed a filibuster on October 29th to ensure the vote wouldn’t happen on the 29th. Not only did they filibuster, they proclaimed they would filibuster days in advance, they said they were filibustering while they were filibustering, and then bragged about filibustering afterwards. (What? Filibuster is a fun word to say. Leave me alone.) Had it not been for their filibuster, the vote would have taken place during daylight hours on October 29th, far from “the dark of night where nobody would notice.”
Then, according to Senate minutes – which it took all of 45 seconds to pull up on this thing we lazy millennials call “the internet” (seriously, do politicians not know there is a link for these on their own website’s front page?) – at 10:07 PM on October 29th, after having filibustered the bill preventing a vote from occurring that day, Senator Cruz requested that the Senate adjourn until 12:01AM the next morning, which would delay the vote into the wee hours of the morning on October 30th….and there was unanimous agreement because, quite frankly, after being in the same room as Paul and Cruz for 12 hours, who wouldn’t vote to leave for a few hours? But the thing about this is that Cruz could have requested ant time he wanted, and if the Senate had not agreed to meet back at the time he requested, they couldn’t adjourn until Cruz requested again or ceded the floor and someone else requested adjournment…so Cruz actively chose to make sure that the Senate would meet back at midnight to bring the bill up again.
Then, when the Senate met back up at 12:01AM, Paul proceeded to filibuster for another hour before finally ceding the floor (that means he shut the fuck up for a change), allowing regular discourse to happen and the vote to take place.
And here – in reality – is where the Republican claim about the Democrats crumbles:
If Paul and Cruz were really so concerned about the American people being awake for this vote, they either would have A) just let the vote happen mid-day on the 29th, B) requested an adjournment until 10 AM (as is customary for the Senate) so that the vote would occur mid-day on the 30th, or C) continued to filibuster the bill on the morning of the 30th long enough to delay the vote until mid-day on the 30th.
But they didn’t. They filibustered to delay the vote until 10 PM, then set the Senate to come back in at 12:01 AM, then they filibustered until the early hours of the morning and THEN allowed the vote.
The timeline, and a recognition of reality, show what really happened: Paul and Cruz actively made sure that the vote would occur in the wee hours of the morning so they could claim the Democrats did it on purpose and give Republicans one more false talking point to repeat ad nauseam….and guess what, it worked like a charm…because why see if something is true when you can just assume those evil liberals did something evil and use it as one more reason to think shutting down our government is a good idea?
Third, and this one is pretty basic, is the process by which bills become laws means that even IF the Senate at large (rather than Cruz and Paul) had actively conspired to make sure this vote took place when no-one was awake to see it in an effort to hid the contents of the bill, the effort would’ve been in vain. See, passing a law works a bit like this:
First the law gets introduced in the House of Representatives. It gets debated, amended, debated some more and then voted on. If the House of Representatives votes to pass the bill, it gets sent over to the Senate.
Once in the Senate, the bill gets debated some more, amended some more, debated some more, and then voted on. If the Senate votes to pass the bill, it gets sent back to the House of Representatives, because it has been amended, so they have to make sure both sides of Congress still like it.
From here, it gets tossed back and forth, amended some more, and then eventually, if both sides of Congress can come to an agreement, it gets sent to the President. Once in the hands of the President, it either gets veto’d or signed into law.
So, the point here is that while the vote in the Senate happened in the wee hours of the morning – thanks solely to the efforts of Paul and Cruz – the vote in the House of Representatives happened in the middle of the day….so, if they were trying to hide what they were doing from the American people, they had failed to do so from the start.
Fourth, the text of the bill says nothing about removing funds from Social Security. Not once, anywhere in the bill, does it say this. Don’t believe me? Here is the text of the bill, read it yourself. I read it all of the relevant parts. I read the entire section on Social Security, every mention of Social Security outside of that section, and all of the relevant sections of every law that would be amended by the relevant sections of this bill – if it becomes law – and you know what I didn’t find? A single thing that would even *imply* that this law will remove or allow the removal of one red cent from Social Security.
So….where are they getting this claim from?
By the way, by direct the admission of numerous Reps and Senators over the last several years, it’s safe to say that I read more of the bill than any single Representative or Senator other than the ones who wrote the thing. See, they don’t actually read the bills they vote on – they have aids and interns divide each bill into sections to read and then report back to them with disjointed bullet points that very often are completely wrong because they don’t have the full context of the bill.
Fifth, every Representative has the ability to propose amendments on bills being discussed in the House, and every senator has the ability to propose an amendment to every bill being discussed in the Senate. Here is the list of every single amendment proposed for this bill. All 224 of them. A quick search finds that Senator Paul proposed 2 amendments and that Senator Cruz proposed 2 amendments.
Of those 4 amendments, 3 were not actually amendments to the bill itself, but to another amendment proposed by Senator Hatch. The topic of those amendments? Well, Hatch’s original amendment (S.Amdt.1221) is all about trade agreements. There was one singular mention of Social Security – ensuring that Medicare pays for renal dialysis.
In the text of those four amendments, S.Admt.1383 – Sen. Paul, S.Amdt.1384 – Sen. Cruz, and S.Admt.1408 – Sen. Paul, we find three nearly identical documents. In the lengthy content of these amendments is only one mention of Social Security that is the same in each one: Basically saying that if a person on SS Disability Insurance works enough hours in one week to qualify for SS Unemployment Insurance, they lose their Disability insurance payment for that month.
As for the fourth, S.Admnt.1222 – Sen. Cruz, we find only two mentions of Social Security:
1) A measure requiring employers to provide extra information to the government on their quarterly wage reports, and requiring state agencies to make that information available to other agencies.
2) A section requiring that passports be denied to or revoked from persons who don’t have a SSN, fail to provide one or provide one that is not theirs.
So…Senators have the ability to use amendments to literally gut an entire bill in it’s entirety, not only replacing the entire content of the bill but even the name of the bill….and neither Senator Paul nor Senator Cruz even attempted to submit an amendment to stop the bill from “stealing” massive quantities of money from the Social Security Fund.
If their claims about the bill were even remotely true, why did they do absolutely nothing to stop it from happening?
For the sake of argument, lets say that I have the facts wrong on everything I have said up to this point (even though the facts are documented by Congress themselves). Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there IS a solid number being cited, that Cruz and Paul did not actively push the vote to the wee hours of the morning, that the Senate passes a bill into law and that the House of Reps had not voted on the bill in daylight hours, that the text of the bill does explicitly steal millions or billions or whatnot from Social Security, and that Cruz and Paul had proposed amendments to try to stop it from happening….
Wow, that’s a hell of a lot of humoring the ignorant just to get to a final point, but for a moment do it. We’ll humor them. Here’s where, even if we assume all those falsehoods are true, the claim that the democrats did any of it falls flat on it’s face:
Congress is currently controlled in it’s entirety by the Republican party. Republicans are the majority in both the House of Reps and the Senate….so how can the Democrats be doing any of this without the implicit cooperation of the Republican Party?