By the end of 2016, the Social Security Disability Insurance program will exhaust its trust fund. If Congress does nothing, the average disabled worker would be forced to survive on an income below the federal poverty level.

Heritage expert Romina Boccia explains what Congress should do to prevent across-the-board cuts in benefits for those that need it most:

 

Rather than kick the can down the road and raid the Social Security retirement program, Congress should take the opportunity to implement comprehensive Social Security and Disability Insurance reforms that will restore both programs to their original intent and make them financially solvent for the long run.

Congress should take this opportunity to reform both the Social Security retirement and disability programs together. Instead of funding a broken program, Congress should seek ways to better define disability, evaluate applicants, and monitor beneficiaries to ensure that only individuals who meet the statutory definition of disability receive benefits.

Do you think Congress should do more to reform Social Security programs?

Heritage Action for America intern and former Marine Corporal Cole Thomas Lyle returned from a 400-day deployment to Afghanistan in November 2011. Like many other veterans, Cole initially believed he was completely healthy when he returned. But he was wrong.

Cole attended a Texas Rangers baseball game to celebrate with friends only days after making it back home. He was caught off guard, though, when the stadium set off fireworks, causing him to hit the ground and cover his head with his hands.

Shaken up by the incident, Cole underwent a Post-Deployment Health Assessment and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The VA immediately put him on a combination of anti-depressants and sleeping pills, and sent him to a psychiatrist. But Cole believes these “solutions” only made his symptoms worse.

Two years after his original diagnosis, Cole was finally given another option, one that arguably has saved his life: a service dog named Kaya.

There was just one problem. The VA does not currently allow veterans suffering from conditions like PTSD to qualify for service dogs. Despite the fact that on average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and reports show that prescription drug treatments drive up those numbers, the VA refuses to provide alternative treatments like service animals. That means most veterans would have to pay for this type of treatment out of pocket.

Cole now has a new mission. He is setting out to change these statistics and to help his fellow veterans. Partnering with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Cole is working to introduce the Pups for Veterans Relief Act to Congress. This legislation would expand the VA’s definition of “service animal” to include dogs that assist veterans with symptoms of PTSD.

Cole is doing everything he can to spread awareness. He has already appeared twice as a guest on One America News Network’s “On Point with Tomi Lahren.” Kaya joined him for the last interview to discuss how these animals could be the key to helping veterans with PTSD and to lower the number of veteran suicides.

Cole’s fight has also been featured in The Daily Signal. He plans to keep pushing forward with the goal of helping save fellow veterans with dogs like Kaya.

As pressure builds on Capitol Hill to strip Planned Parenthood of taxpayer funds, Heritage’s Daily Signal released a list this week of the 38 private companies that also fund the abortion provider.

This list is making major waves. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have read the story, and several companies have asked to be removed from the Planned Parenthood’s list.

Even the Drudge Report featured the article:

Do you think the federal government or these firms should fund Planned Parenthood?

Writing in the introduction to Heritage’s new Index of Culture and Oppprtunity, Yuval Levin explains the fundamentally different worldviews of liberals and conservatives. Liberals, he says, focus on the relationship between the individual and the government, while conservatives focus on preserving organic institutions like the family, civil society, and so forth.

Because liberals tend to ignore the significance of much that happens at the juncture of the genera­tions and much that is done by our mediating insti­tutions, they often find themselves perplexed by the deepest and most enduring social problems we con­front—unable to explain the problems’ persistence except by inventing scapegoats to blame and incapa­ble of addressing them except by frantically moving money around in the hope of finding just the right balance of payments to heal our society.

Conservatives, on the other hand, know that explaining the persistence of entrenched, intergen­erational poverty—despite half a century of mas­sive public programs to address it—requires tak­ing into account the interconnectedness of the generations and the institutions that make up com­munities. Conservatives blame neither any malice of the wealthy and powerful nor any failure of will among the poor, but instead the intrinsic inclination of all human beings to fall into self-serving apathy or self-defeating vice in the absence of sound social institutions and norms.

Read the whole Index of Culture and Opportunity, which offers a look at the social and economic trends shaping the nation.

What do you think of Levin’s argument and the way he defines the differences between liberals and conservatives?

America’s tax code stifles opportunity and is long overdue for an update that makes the system simpler, flatter, and fairer. To build momentum for reform, The Heritage Foundation hosted a three-hour symposium on the issue this week. Speakers included:

  • Alvin Rabushka, The Hoover Institution
  • Daniel Mitchell, Cato Institute
  • Stephen J. Entin,Tax Foundation
  • Jason Fichtner, Mercatus Center
  • Steve Hayes, Americans for Fair Taxation
  • Curtis Dubay, The Heritage Foundation
  • Steve Moore, The Heritage Foundation
  • Art Laffer, Laffer Associates

Watch the video of the whole event.

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