Organizations of the aged and poor yesterday condemned the Carter administration for Social Security benefit cuts the president is expected to propose in his Jan. 22 budget message.
"We are appalled," said Betty Duskin of the National Council of Senior Citizens at a meeting of the Social Security Advisory Council.
"These are shin-kicker benefit cuts. We oppose them. They hurt," said a spokesmen for the American Association of Retired Persons-National Retired Teachers Association.
"To propose such a radical change in our benefit system because of concerns with cost would be a disaster," said Leonard Lesser of the Center for Community Change.
The same opinions were expressed by former Health, Education and Welfare secretary Wilbur Cohen and former Social Security commissioner Robert Ball in a Dec. 20 meeting with the president and in a subsequent meeting with Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr., under secretary Hale Champion and Social Security Commissioner Stanford Ross.
At that time the White House and Office of Management and Budget were contemplating cuts in prospective benefits, such as a "cap" on monthly disability payments, that would have saved the government $1.857 billion in fiscal 1980.
The OMB has since shaved the cuts to about $600 million a year, but Cohen, Ball and the organization that testified yesterday still say they believe they would be damaging to the structure of Social Security protection. Duskin said changes of this type had never before been made except on recommendation of the advisory council.
Yesterday's testimony indicates there will be serious opposition when the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee takes up the president's proposals.
The three organizations of the aged and poor also urged that Treasury general revenues derived from income taxes be used to help finance Social Security.
But some of the nation's major business groups came out strongly against general revenue financing.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as the American Council of Life Insurance and Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans, said Social Security should continue to be financed by an equal payroll tax on employers and employes.
"General fund financing should be avoided," said Preston C. Bassett, speaking for the Chamber.
Business groups thus went on record in direct opposition to labor unions and organizations of the aged, which favor use of general revenues so that scheduled increases in payroll taxes can be slowed or rolled back.
Both the chamber and the NAM came out strongly for some limit on monthly disability benefits, as the president is expected to propose.A ceiling, the NAM said, would "prevent unnecessarily high" benefits "which may serve as disincentives to return to work."
The chamber also endorsed two other proposals expected to be made by President Carter:
Abolition of the $122-a-month "regular" minimum benefit, which a person receives even if his benefit calculation amounts to less, and which is often received on the basis of only limited work-experience by retired civil servants who are also drawing a government pension;
Abolition of monthly survivor benefits at 18 for the child of a dead worker. At present, they can continue until 21 if the child is a full-time student.
Both groups also favored bringing federal, state and local government employes under Social Security on a mandatory basis.
Bassett said universal coverage would be financial gain for Social Security, helping keep the general level of payroll taxes from rising too fast, while the other changes would save money on benefits not always justified by need.