There are many speculations about the Trump Social Security position, which leaves many retirees and soon-to-be retirees anxious. Keep reading to see what we know so far about the President’s stance on Social Security.
In this article:
- President Trump on Social Security
- President Trump on Retirement Savings
- President Trump on Pension Funds
- The Trump Social Security Position: Privatization?
Trump Social Security and Retirement Stand: What You Should Know
President Trump on Social Security
During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump said that he won’t change Social Security if elected as President. Responding to the AARP in June 2016, Trump defended his proposed tax cuts and trade policies, among others, will indirectly help preserve Social Security by improving the American economy.
During the Republican Presidential primaries, his commitment to protect Social Security made him stand head and shoulders above the rest. It also helped his campaign that other Republican nominees presented contrasting plans on Social Security cuts.
Since then, critics from both within and outside the Republican party continue to say otherwise. Despite President Trump’s campaign promise to protect Social Security, many critics insist that he has a sinister plan to cut Social Security.
One critic is The Hill opinion contributor, Nancy Altman. In her August 2019 op-ed piece, she argued that Trump’s payroll tax cuts or holidays will undermine Social Security.
In particular, she said that payroll cuts Trump has in mind may negatively affect Social Security benefits in two ways:
- Slashing funding for the Trust Fund, unless another revenue stream replaces the payroll tax cuts; and
- By deteriorating public support for the Social Security program once they start to believe that Social Security is not a part of their income.
A Forbes magazine contributor is also insinuating that President Trump will cut Social Security despite his silence on the matter. Teresa Ghilarducci wrote in her August 2019 Forbes magazine article that Trump plans to make cuts to Social Security and health insurance (Medicare) Federal funding if he wins a second term.
Statements from both Trump critics and allies, coupled with the President’s silence on the matter, compel Americans to speculate about Trump’s Social Security position. For somebody who will be participating in the 2020 Presidential elections, this isn’t good publicity.
President Trump on Retirement Savings
The GOP, in general, wants to increase Americans’ access and options for retirement plans. For their part, Congress passed a bipartisan bill that’ll help low-income people save for retirement via the SECURE Act.
However, the Senate has yet to act on the bill that Congress already passed in May 2019. A couple of GOP Senators want certain amendments to the Act and in general, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be sitting on it.
Such seeming indifference or lack of urgency to work on the SECURE Act gives a bad impression to many Americans. Is this indicative of the GOP’s lack of support for promoting retirement savings to as many Americans as possible?
More importantly, does Trump’s silence on the Senate’s delayed action on the SECURE Act indicate a similar stand on American retirement?
Not necessarily. In August 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order for Retirement Security addressed to the Treasury and Labor Departments.
In the Executive Order, he gave the departments six months to look into the possibilities of:
- Increasing the required minimum distribution age (RMD) from the current 70 ½ years old; and
- Giving small businesses the ability to offer retirement plans to their employees.
The increase in minimum RMD age only benefits those who have more retirement funds than the average Americans. However, the greater potential benefit comes with empowering small businesses to offer retirement savings plans to specific types of employees who usually have no access to such plans, such as:
- Employee-entrepreneurs whose working relationships are unique or complicated; and
- Sole proprietors.
With this Executive Order, President Trump has made a clear statement about his stance on the retirement of Americans, particularly those who don’t have access to retirement savings accounts.
President Trump on Pension Funds
Another important retirement act passed by Congress is the second version of the Butch Lewis Act. This act aims to, among others, help address the pending insolvency of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation pension fund.
However, the GOP-dominated Senate seems to be sitting on this one as well, just like with the bipartisan-passed SECURE Act. And President Trump’s silence on legislations such as the Butch Lewis and SECURE Acts gives Americans the impression that the Trump Social Security position is not a supportive one.
The Trump Social Security Position: Privatization?
The GOP’s 2016 platform statement gives yet another insight on the party’s, as well as President Trump’s, Social Security position. Part of it reads:
“As the party of America’s future, we accept the responsibility to preserve and modernize a system of retirement security forged in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans. Current retirees and those close to retirement can be assured of their benefits. Of the many reforms being proposed, all options should be considered to preserve Social Security.
As Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system. Saving Social Security is more than a challenge. It is our moral obligation to those who trusted in the government’s word.”
In particular, the first sentence of the last paragraph may hint at the Republican’s – and President Trump’s – Social Security position. Can Americans construe the statement of the GOP’s belief in the ability of free markets to preserve Social Security as a hint of its plans to privatize the Social Security Administration?
The Trump Social Security position isn’t as clear as Americans would like it to be. However, his recent Executive Order on Retirement Security is a strong statement about his stand on one aspect of Social Security: retirement.
What do you make of President Trump’s stand on Social Security in general and on retirement in particular? Let us know in the comments section below!
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