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Social Security payroll contribution key, but cuts proposed

Written by Diane Archer

Last week, the Associated Press reported that President Trump’s team is considering ending or cutting the Social Security and Medicare payroll contributions as a way to “help” working class Americans. But, these payroll contributions are key to ensuring health and retirement security for working Americans. Cuts would put Social Security and Medicare at risk.

As Michael Hiltzik points out in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, payroll contributions protect Medicare and Social Security from political attack.  In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words,  ““We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions. … With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”

Payroll contributions from every worker for Social Security and Medicare turn these programs from welfare programs–which never cover all the people eligible, let alone in need of them–into social insurance programs with earned benefits for everyone. Payroll contributions allow the Social Security Trust Fund to cover the full costs of Social Security benefits. Social Security pays for itself, without dipping into general revenues or contributing to the deficit.

If Social Security contributions were eliminated or cut significantly, Social Security benefits would need to come in whole or in part from general revenues. A Congress committed to gutting Social Security could easily do so by cutting taxes and reducing revenues or reallocating monies away from Social Security to different priorities.

Even with Social Security having the monies needed to pay benefits for the next 17 years until 2034, Congressional leaders argue that Social Security is “unsustainable” and needs cutting. At the same time, a majority of the public supports Social Security expansion, including lifting the cap on Social Security contributions to ensure Social Security’s ability to pay benefits over the next 75 years.

Social Security is needed now more than ever to ensure the economic and retirement security of Americans. If President Trump were listening to the people who supported him, putting aside the people who did not, he would know that we should be expanding Social Security benefits, as 157 House members have recently proposed. We need to increase Social Security benefits and lift the cap on contributions–now at $127,200–so that the wealthiest Americans contribute to Social Security at the same rate as everyone else.

If you want Congress to expand Social Security, please sign this petition.

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  • So where was this writer and this organization when Obama cut the payroll tax with his payroll tax “holiday”? That defunded Social Security and threw more debt onto the general budget.

    • Obama’s adjustment was only a temporary cut of 2%. Trump is proposing a permanent termination of Social Security! Big difference there, not to mention how disastrous that would be for so many millions of senior citizens as well as the permanently disabled! Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits for all who have paid into them, and I guarantee the public would be VERY unhappy if he tries to mess with the system that has worked well for so many years. If you want to express some anger, be pissed about all the former presidents who were allowed to dip into the fund to support their wars or whatever, and never had to replace the billions or trillions they stole from us, Reagan, Clinton and Bush! Or be angry about the billions or trillions that the Pentagon has lost, but since they are never audited, they are never held accountable! Every American should be angry about that!

  • It’s actually working class workers that get the best return out of their SS contributions. The benefit formulas are tilted heavily toward lower income workers. They would not be any better off with private savings that would go into an annuity.

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