The last thing our country’s most vulnerable citizens need right now is to worry about the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, but Senate Republicans added a provision within the stimulus bill that would fundamentally weaken it.
President Donald Trump has been obsessed with suspending the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, a move that would harm both programs which millions of Americans rely on, especially the disabled and retirees.
That particular idea seemed to die down after much criticism and outrage. But Senate Republicans used the phase three stimulus bill to include a sinister provision allowing employers to forgo paying into Social Security for the rest of 2020. Under pressure to make sure Americans received economic aid, House Democrats ended up passing the legislation, including the Social Security provision.
According to Common Dreams:
Section 2302 of the nearly 900-page legislation would let companies defer until next year their payment of the employer payroll tax, one of the primary funding mechanisms for Social Security. The bill would require that companies pay 50% of their owed 2020 payroll taxes by December 31, 2021.”
This is particularly alarming because weakening the trust fund would give Republicans an excuse to call for ending the program, especially if they retain the Senate and the White House after the election.
“The Democrats are walking right into the trap,” Social Security Works deputy director Michael Phelan warned prior to passage. “If Trump and Republicans retain power after November’s elections, they will make sure that corporations never repay Social Security. Then, Republicans will use the reduced trust fund as an excuse to destroy our Social Security system. The only way to escape this trap is to avoid stepping into it in the first place. That’s why the House must remove the cut to Social Security’s dedicated funding before this bill passes.”
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare CEO Max Richtman condemned the provision and explained why it is dangerous.
“Social Security is an earned benefit fully funded by the contributions of workers throughout their working lives,” he wrote. “A payroll tax suspension or deferral chips away at that fundamental idea, making it easier each time it is enacted to turn to it again to meet some future crisis, until the payroll tax is permanently eliminated.”
So, the American people got stimulus checks worth $1,200, but they are set to lose a whole lot more in the future just because of this one provision alone.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic majority must reverse this attack on Social Security. Allowing corporations to get away with not paying into Social Security while they receive trillions in bailout money from taxpayers is a double robbery. Getting help to Americans is important but giving corporations another tax cut—and one that would destroy Social Security in the process no less—is morally repugnant and proves that Republicans don’t care about the American people.
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