Letter: Socially Secure

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Letter to the Editor

President Donald Trump famously had nothing specific to say when Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked him what his goals were for his second term. But if actions speak louder than words, then his executive order deferring the payroll tax speaks volumes. Just in case anybody missed the significance of this action, Trump promised to consider permanently eliminating the payroll tax if he is re-elected. Not only does this action underscore his commitment to end Social Security and Medicare but it also speaks to his penchant to ignore the Constitution. The authority to tax is a congressional prerogative not previously available to the White House. You may say, “Wait! President Trump has said that he will preserve Social Security. How can you infer from this executive order that he is committed to ending it?” The Trump administration’s argument for why the Supreme Court should end Obamacare is that the congressional vote to do away with imposing a tax penalty on those refusing to get health insurance was equivalent to congress voting to end Obamacare. If one applies similar reasoning to the proposal to permanently end the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare, then ending the tax is equivalent to ending these programs. In a 2018 tweet, Trump asserted that “Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well.” In a January 2020 tweet he said, “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!” These assertions notwithstanding, his fiscal 2020 and 2021 budgets proposed five percent cuts to Social Security and Medicare on the grounds that “out of control spending must stop.” These actions are not supported by the electorate. The PEW Research Center reported that “74 percent of Americans say Social Security benefits should not be reduced in any way,” including a majority of Republicans. A Marist/NPR/PBS poll indicated that 60 percent of Americans would rather raise taxes than cut Social Security benefits. If his actions speak louder than his words, they will contribute to his political suicide this November.

William McCarthy