Future Of Social Security 'Depends On 2024 Election'

Advocacy groups, congressional Democrats, and U.S. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign on Monday pointed to new government reports on Medicare and Social Security as proof that the key programs must be protected from Republican attacks.

The annual trustee reports show that Social Security is projected to be fully funded until 2035, a year later than previously thought, while Medicare is expected to be fully funded until 2036, five years beyond the earlier projection.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee to face Biden in November, “proposed cutting Social Security and Medicare every year he was in office, he’s said repeatedly he would cut them, his allies openly plan to target them, and just this weekend he dismissed them as bribes,” noted James Singer, a spokesperson for the Democrat’s campaign.

“Let’s be clear, Donald Trump will steal the hard-earned Social Security and Medicare benefits Americans have been paying into their entire lives and he’ll use it to fund tax cuts for rich people like him,” Singer warned. “President Biden keeps his promises. He has and will continue to protect Social Security and Medicare from MAGA Republican efforts to cut them—Donald Trump won’t.”

“No doubt we will hear cries from so-called ‘fiscal conservatives’ that Social Security is going ‘bankrupt,’ supposedly requiring Draconian measures—which couldn’t be further than the truth.”

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said Monday that “current and future American retirees should feel confident about both Medicare and Social Security, which [are] stronger due to the robust economy under President Biden. But the future of these earned benefit programs depends on who is elected this fall—both as president and to Congress.”

Fiesta highlighted that Biden’s latest budget “calls for strengthening” the programs whereas Trump recently said that “there is a lot you can do… in terms of cutting” them and “the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which includes around 80% of House Republicans, stands ready to make cuts as well.”

Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, similarly declared that “today’s report shows that our Social Security system is benefiting from the Biden economy. Due to robust job growth, low unemployment, and rising wages, more people than ever are contributing to Social Security and earning its needed protections.”

“That said, Congress should take action sooner rather than later to ensure that Social Security can pay full benefits for generations to come, along with expanding Social Security’s modest benefits,” she argued, noting various plans from Democrats in Congress that “are paid for by requiring millionaires and billionaires to contribute more of their fair share.”

Unlike Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., “Republicans want to cut benefits despite overwhelming opposition from the American people,” Altman said of federal lawmakers and the former president. Additionally, “Trump plans to sharply restrict immigration. This would harm Social Security by reducing the number of workers paying in.”

“The United States is the wealthiest nation on Earth at the wealthiest moment in our history. We can use that wealth to protect and expand Social Security, or to provide yet more tax handouts to billionaires,” she concluded. “This report is a reminder that the next decade is a crucial one for Social Security’s future. Americans should vote accordingly this November.”

Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, also asserted that “Congress must act NOW to strengthen Social Security for the 67 million Americans who depend on it. We cannot afford to wait to take action until the trust fund is mere months from insolvency, as Congress did in 1983.”

According to Richtman:

No doubt we will hear cries from so-called ‘fiscal conservatives’ that Social Security is going ‘bankrupt,’ supposedly requiring Draconian measures—which couldn’t be further than the truth. Revenue always will flow into Social Security from workers’ payroll contributions, so the program will never be ‘broke.’ But no one wants seniors to suffer an automatic 17% benefit cut in 2035, so Congress must act deliberately, but not recklessly. A bad deal driven by cuts to earned benefits could be worse than no deal at all.

We strongly support revenue-side solutions that would bring more money into the trust fund by demanding that the wealthy pay their fair share. Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) has offered legislation that would do just that—by maintaining the current payroll wage cap (currently set at $168,600), but subjecting wages $400,000 and above to payroll taxes, as well—and dedicating some of high earners’ investment income to Social Security. Rep. Larson’s bill also would provide seniors with a much-needed benefit boost.

Larson was among the lawmakers who responded to Monday’s Social Security report by demanding urgent action. The Democrat also called out his Republican colleagues for pushing cuts and trying to “ram their dangerous plan through an undemocratic and unaccountable so-called ‘fiscal commission,'” which critics have dubbed a “death panel.”

“The Social Security 2100 Act is co-sponsored by nearly 200 House Democrats and would improve benefits across the board while extending solvency until 2066, while Donald Trump and House Republicans continue their calls to slash Americans’ hard-earned benefits!” Larson said. “By contrast, President Joe Biden and Democrats are working to strengthen Social Security, not cut it.”

Co-sponsors of Larson’s bill include Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

“Social Security is the greatest anti-poverty program in history, and ensuring its solvency for future generations has been one of my top priorities in Congress,” Boyle said Monday, promoting the Medicare and Social Security Fair Share Act, his bill with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “Unfortunately, while Democrats and President Biden want to protect Social Security and Medicare, Republicans have made clear they want to tear them down.”

Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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