First it was health care. Now Republican senators want to kill Social Security and Medicare?

Trump payroll tax deferment is like an election year bribe

August 18, 2020 6:00 am

Rita Schwenk, 71, holds up medication which she receives under the Medicare prescription drug benefit program in 2006 in Portland, Maine. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Now Republicans are coming after Social Security and Medicare with President Trump’s signature on an executive order that slashes the funding for these two programs.

When I served as a Republican member of Congress, we helped thousands of constituents who had problems receiving their Social Security checks or trouble with Medicare reimbursements. I can’t say how many times my constituents cried tears of joy when I was able to tell them their Social Security or Medicare reimbursement issues had been resolved.

These programs help Americans retire with some peace of mind for their financial security and health care protection. Social Security and Medicare are not “benefits” — they are entitlements that working Americans have funded through decades of hard work by their own payroll tax deductions.

Now, with the stroke of a pen, Trump has deferred the payroll tax deduction so that workers can get bigger paychecks now — before an election. But do not be fooled: Under Trump’s plan, workers have to pay back this deferred tax. This could be an expensive surprise to many, many people on tax filing day next year.

Trump claims he wants to make this payroll tax deduction cut “permanent.”

Anything for a headline — as an election year bribe.

But Trump does not have the constitutional authority to do that. He knows nothing about how our three branches of government work. He knows even less about the lives of people without golden toilets or multiple days off to golf.

If Trump and his Republican Senate enablers succeed, this would gut America’s Social Security and Medicare programs.


What have Republican Senators said about Trump’s attacks on Social Security and Medicare? As usual, very, very little.

Republicans don’t want to publicize their support for slashing these programs. Republican Senators would rather direct your attention to National Book Lovers Day or a ribbon-cutting, or a public lands bill as another election-year “sweetener.”

Or they blame Democrats, and focus more on the federal government banning a smartphone app than on the federal government coordinating the fight against a deadly virus that has taken 160,000 lives in the past five months.

Don’t forget — the Democratic House passed the Heroes Act relief package three months ago, on May 15. Republicans failed to negotiate, and they’ve been hoping that the economic crisis, like the pandemic itself, would just disappear.

So while Republicans are posing by new park benches and describing their favorite books, they are trying to hide the fact that they intend to cut your Social Security and Medicare, with the bill coming due starting next year.

What else are Senate Republicans trying to hide?

Hint: It starts with “Repeal and …” But despite their relentless slogan, they never propose a “Replace”-ment.

When Republican Senators couldn’t kill the ACA, piecemeal dismantling wasn’t enough, so the Trump administration filed a case in June before the United States Supreme Court to end it for good.

More than 20 million Americans rely upon ACA for their health care coverage, which protects against the threat of preexisting conditions. Like the deferred payroll tax deduction, the impact of the Republican case to kill Obamacare will not be felt until after the election, when the Supreme Court issues its decision.

Why have Republicans been so determined to kill affordable health care — and now Social Security and Medicare? I have been raising this fundamental question for many years, most recently as a member of Republicans for Integrity.

This election isn’t about park benches, ribbon-cuttings or heartwarming stories that they use to change the subject.

This election is all about trust.

Whom do you trust to protect health care, Social Security and Medicare?

Know the answer and vote.

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Claudine Schneider
Claudine Schneider

Claudine Schneider, a Boulder resident, is a Republican former United States congresswoman and was the first woman ever elected to a major political office in Rhode Island. She authored the first and only revenue-neutral Global Warming Prevention Act. Today she is an advisor to A Call for American Renewal.