85 Years of Retirement Security At Risk
By Norman Wernet, President of the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans
It’s been 85 years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.
85 years of retirement security for workers who have earned it.
And now Donald Trump is trying to dismantle the whole thing in just a few months.
Make no mistake — the executive action that Donald Trump signed last week would immediately cut off funding for Social Security, threatening the solvency of the program’s trust fund.
But that’s just step one. If he’s re-elected, Trump has pledged to permanently eliminate — “terminate,” in his words — the source of funding for Social Security and Medicare. For the nearly 2.4 million Ohioans who rely on Social Security, the stakes couldn’t be higher this November. After 85 years, this could be the end for Social Security.
Donald Trump’s campaign promises were quite different four years ago. In June 2016 at a speech in St. Clairsville, Trump said, “We’re going to save our Social Security. We’re going to save our Medicare. Others want to cut. We’re going to save so much.”
However, since he’s been in office, Trump has proposed and supported cutting Social Security and Medicare multiple times. Earlier this year, Trump dared to suggest it would be “the easiest of all things” to slash these programs. Senate Republicans who have discussed it with the president say he calls it a “second-term project.”
Apparently Donald Trump has been waiting for just the right moment to attack Social Security, and he’s really hoping no one will read the fine print on his reckless executive order. With the coronavirus epidemic raging and our economy in shambles, Trump is trying a desperate stunt to distract from his failure to lead. He’s spent more time golfing and tweeting than dealing with the COVID crisis, and he’s left seniors to fend for themselves with no plan to address the coronavirus threat.
Now Trump is undermining Social Security, the single greatest anti-poverty program our nation has ever known. Before Social Security, about one-half of American seniors lived in poverty. Today that number has dropped to about one in 10. Social Security lifted nearly 600,000 Ohioans aged 65 or older out of poverty in 2017.
But Social Security is more than a social contract for retirees and older Americans. It protects workers who become disabled, children and spouses when a worker dies. Social Security is America’s social insurance system that works. It isn’t an “entitlement” — it’s an earned benefit.
Social Security’s benefits extend to our economy as a whole. Even if you aren’t currently receiving Social Security, you still benefit from the economic activity the program generates. About one in five Ohioans receive Social Security, and that translates into $37 billion pumped into our state’s economy.
That’s what Donald Trump is putting at risk with his executive order, all for a last-ditch effort to prop up his flailing campaign and deflect from the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died from the coronavirus and millions more who have lost their jobs.
After 85 years, Social Security still works for the American people. Trump promised to protect Medicare and Social Security, but like so much that comes out of his mouth, it was all a lie. We must not allow this attack to succeed.
As President Roosevelt was pushed, encouraged and convinced to fight for our social insurance system, so now we must elect those who will act to keep it in place. We must preserve, protect, expand and pass on Social Security to the generations of future workers.