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Trump promises to terminate Social Security

Written by Diane Archer

In a press conference last week, President Donald Trump promised to terminate Social Security if he is reelected. While he never said that he was ending the program, he called for ending the payroll contributions that fund Social Security. Without these contributions, Social Security cannot pay benefits.

Donald Trump once made promises about Social Security that either were extremely misleading or that he is now breaking. As Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works writes: “We now know that what he meant is that cutting Social Security doesn’t go far enough for him: He wants to destroy Social Security.”

As it is, Donald Trump has issued an executive order, which will weaken Social Security, reducing the amount going into the Social Security Trust Funds. If implemented, that order would allow employers to put off transmitting their employees’ payroll contributions to Social Security. It would save nothing for people with jobs today, because their employers will simply hold onto the withheld funds until they are due. Allowing the postponement of payments to Social Security also will not help anyone who has lost his or her job.

Paul Krugman explains it this way on Twitter: “payroll tax cuts are the hydroxychloroquine of economic policy. They won’t do anything to solve the employment crisis, but will have dangerous side effects. Yet, Trump remains obsessed with them as a cure.” You don’t help the fact that unemployment is high and employers have been forced to lay people off by temporarily deferring payroll contributions. It is what you do, though, if your goal is to undermine Social Security.

Krugman further tweets that ending payroll contributions to Social Security and Medicare will: “undermine the finances of programs that are absolutely crucial to the lives of older Americans. If you measure the quality of policy ideas on a scale of 1 to 10, this is a minus 5 or worse.”

Without Social Security’s dedicated revenue, retirees would not be able to depend on the retirement security Social Security offers, as the majority of them do today, many exclusively. With millions of older people losing their jobs prematurely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, these benefits are needed now more than ever. As it is, pension benefits on which many of our parents relied in retirement, are less and less available. And, 401k benefits, when people have them, tend to be small.

If President Trump is reelected and succeeds at terminating Social Security funding, that will end Social Security as we know it. Americans would no longer be able to count on Social Security benefits in retirement. They would not be able to count on Social Security in the event of disability or in the event of the loss of a spouse or parent.

Call your Representatives in Congress to ensure they oppose any plan to deplete the Social Security Trust Funds and leave Americans without Social Security benefits. Let them know that you expect them to speak out against terminating payroll contributions to Social Security. If they do not, assume they want to destroy Social Security. And, if you want Social Security to continue, be sure to vote for candidates who stand behind Social Security.

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1 Comment

  • …well, according to Mr. Trump’s crony Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin (who I often refer to as “Munchkin”) part of the plan is to part of the permanent plan is to switch funding Social Security from the payroll deduction to the General Fund. What this means is now Social Security (and Medicare) will be treated like any other programme and be vulnerable to budget balancing and deficit reduction measures. which, as a self sustaining and protected trust, it currently isn’t. That was part of the design, so it would always be funded no matter the economic situation the nation is in.

    Surpluses after payouts would be held as Treasury Bonds that could be borrowed against for other programmes to be paid back with interest. This insured there would never be a lack of funds. As part of the General Fund, any surplus would be ripe for the pickings by other government programmes with no need to repay so effectively SS becomes a “slush fund” for other purposes. This is where the real danger lies for should the economy go into a downturn (as it is and about to go deeper into), benefits can be reduced by Congressional action. and if there is a surplus, recipients will likely not benefit from it. Also this is just one more door for the Republican dream, privatisation which will turn Social Security into little more than a government administered 401k Like that commercial retirement plan, this will profit Wall Street fund managers more than it’s recipients. Should a major investment it is tied to tank whether on bad advice or an economic crash, the individual not the fund manager, is the one who suffers.

    Social Security was originally intended to be a part of a three legged plan that included pensions and savings. Pensions in the private sector have become a thing of the past particularly with the assault on unions. Savings is no longer a viable part either as since the demise of the S&Ls interest is almost non existent unless you have a large pool of cash up front (which most wage earners do not have available). Even so, it is a fraction of the rate (at most 1.5%) the S&Ls offered even on a simple passbook account (which could be upwards of 5% – 6%) so you are almost just as well off putting it in a lockbox in a closet. As most jobs still do not pay a living wage, are part, time, gig and offer little to nothing in the way of benefits (thus forcing many people to work more than one just to make it month to month) there is little if anything left over to even put into savings. Furthermore during the previous recession, many people exhausted their savings (self included) or cashed in their 401k’s just to survive and were left with nothing. If, like myself, you were close to retirement age, there hasn’t been enough time to replenish that retirement nest egg to make it worth anything.

    Hence, for a growing number of citizens, Social Security is the only retirement plan they have left, and throttling it, as the Trump Regime and Republicans are looking to do, will put many seniors and disabled folks at risk of having the rug pulled out from under them with inadequate or even no healthcare (given what will happen to Medicare under Mitt Romney’s TRUST act which will fast track cuts to programmes like it and SS and is a “poison pill” rider on the Senate stimulus measure). Personally I am not into camping under a bridge and panhandling on a street corner (particularly since I am also disabled) and I’m sure most others my age and in my condition aren’t either.

    Hopefully this will be a “wake up call” to a major segment of Mr. Trump’s support base as he lied through his teeth to them in 2016 just to get their vote when he said that he wouldn’t be like “other Republicans” and go after Social Security and Medicare.

    If anything, the cap on earnings needs to be eliminated which would insure the programme remains financially healthy for a long time to come. The amount the wealthy would pay, would be almost insignificant to them and a big boon to everyone else. It’s time we stop carrying them on our backs as we no longer can afford to.

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