We must fight back against administration's dangerous assault on Social Security
Today marks Social Security’s 85th anniversary. For 85 years, it has provided millions of Americans with peace of mind that they will have support in their retirement. It has never missed a payment. However, Social Security is now under assault. The Trump administration and Republicans have hatched an ill-advised plan that would defund Social Security, jeopardizing the nation’s most popular program at the very time that Americans need these benefits most.
Last weekend, the Trump Administration made it clear they want to defund Social Security by pulling the plug on the dedicated funding source for this earned benefit. They plan on moving forward by first deferring payroll taxes and then, even more alarming, have indicated they want to make these cuts permanent.
As the president stated, “I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So I’m going to make them all permanent.” This is a direct assault on Social Security.
Trump’s payroll tax order is a terrible way to get relief to beleaguered Americans. It is stealing from their retirement to make up for the administration’s failure to contain the virus and save our economy. Americans need help but not this way. Americans make these payroll tax deposits, officially known as FICA payments, with each paycheck in exchange for guaranteed benefits. FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act – whose contribution? Yours!
Trump’s plan to defund Social Security is the latest salvo in Republicans’ decades long goal to cut Social Security. For decades, Republicans have tried to cut Social Security by trying to privatize it or making cuts through commissions which subvert the legislative process, or propose seemingly reasonable policies such as raising the retirement age, which in fact cause benefit cuts. Now they’re trying to use the pandemic as a scapegoat.
200+ House Democrats and I have a solution to safe-guard Social Security and make it sustainable for future generations with the Social Security 2100 Act. We’ve also introduced an emergency relief bill, the Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act, which would prevent a benefit cut from occurring during the pandemic. It expands benefits to help beneficiaries through these difficult times, which will help boost the economy. No one is getting rich off Social Security. The average benefit is $1,400 per month and that’s money that goes directly back into the economy to pay for food, housing, and other necessities.
Republicans on the other hand have fought our efforts. Their approach this Congress has been to do nothing. Doing nothing would result in a 20 percent benefit cut after 2035. For the average beneficiary, that’s $280 a month! Even more alarming, is a recent report from the Center for American Progress that found if Trump’s payroll tax cut became permanent, the Social Security Trust Fund would be exhausted by 2025 and result in benefit cuts of up to 50 percent. President Roosevelt’s intention when he designed Social Security was to purposefully make it an earned benefit that people contributed into with every paycheck. By eliminating Social Security’s funding source, President Trump is turning it into a welfare program, something Roosevelt warned against.
In the midst of the worst economic recession of our time, it is just plain cruel to try and pull the floor out from under Americans’ retirement. For two-thirds of Social Security beneficiaries, Social Security makes up the majority of their retirement income. As 401(k)s fluctuate, Social Security remains strong. It has never missed a payment. Unless the Republicans have their way.
As chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, it’s my job to educate the public and serve as a guardian of the program.
We will not allow Trump and his Republicans to defund Social Security and cause the demise of the only program guaranteeing financial security for Americans.
Larson represents Connecticut’s 1st District and is chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.