Does the Budget Deal Take $150 Billion From Social Security and Spend It Elsewhere?
In discussing the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 – the budget deal that is working its way through Congress – former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) said that the deal took $150 billion from Social Security and spent it on other programs. He could have been referring to a variety of modest Social Security policies in the deal that are estimated to save $168 billion over the next 75 years. It is true that savings in Social Security are used to pay for two years of increases in discretionary spending, but the legislation only uses the Social Security savings from the next decade. Depending how these savings are measured, they total somewhere between $4 billion and $9 billion, not $150 billion.
Also important to note is that while the legislation does use these Social Security savings to “pay for” other spending increases on paper, the money is never actually removed from the Social Security trust fund, so the money will still be used to pay benefits.
It is also possible that Gov. Huckabee is talking about another provision that reallocated $117 billion of payroll tax revenues from Social Security’s retirement program to its disability program. In that case, there is some truth to his argument – though the actual amount reallocated is less than the $150 billion he cited. More to the point, that money is not being taken away from Social Security, but rather diverted from one part of Social Security to another.
Either way you examine the claim – whether as being used to pay for increase discretionary spending or being reallocated to its disability program – the money is not being "taken from" Social Security.
Ruling: Largely False
*10/30 Update: An astute reader pointed out that Huckabee may have been talking about reallocation of Social Security revenues, so we added discussion of both issues.