Worrying about the fate of Social Security


Social SecurityThere was a television ad from the White House incumbent’s campaign I’ve seen several times. It said that he’d always support Social Security and Medicare. As someone who is dependent on both, I was wary.

An article in USA Today addressed this a few months ago. He did not say he would terminate Social Security. “The posts [from Social Security Works] came after Trump signed a series of executive orders on August 8 intended to provide relief from the detrimental economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The concern comes from the fact that “the vast majority of Social Security is financed through the payroll tax, according to the Social Security Administration.

“One of the Aug. 8 executive orders instructed the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of payroll taxes for employees who make less than $100,000 each year… The order also instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes deferred.”

Where’s the money?

And the regime promised to eliminate the payroll tax altogether. “It’s a tremendous saving for people. And we’re going to be doing it, and we intend to terminate it at the end of the appropriate period of time.”

Where would the revenue come from then? “We’ll be paying into Social Security through the general fund.” And that is scary to me. If re-elected, he “could continue to defer the payroll tax with executive orders.”

However, “he could not eliminate the payroll tax entirely or provide a new source of funding for Social Security without support from Congress.” Right. A dysfunctional Congress dealing with massive debt from a pandemic.

As USA Today admitted, “In defense of its posts, Social Security Works argued that advocating for termination of the payroll tax and termination of Social Security are the same. The payroll tax is known as the Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax, after all.”

In the October 2020 AARP Bulletin, the incumbent repeated the claim that he would not cut Social Security. “I’m looking at numbers now that look like the best quarter ever in terms of hiring people.” In other words, Social Security will be paid for by projected economic growth. Of course, he has been known to…let’s say, abandon the truth.

Conversely, his opponent, Joe Biden said in the same publication that he “would not change payroll taxes for anyone making less than $4000,000. However, “everyone making more than that will pay the same payroll tax on wages over $400,000 ss they pay on their first $137,000.” This would, Biden claims, make Social Security “secure for a long, long time.”

As Buffalo Springfield once sang, “You know what they say about a bird in the hand.” I like my safety nets paid for. 

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Worrying about the fate of Social Security”

  1. Oh, I fully expect Social Security (and v. likely Medicare) to be eliminated just as my generation (X) gets ready to retire. I can probably eke out a living with my TIAA account and my state’s pension; healthcare would be a much larger issue.

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