During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump stressed keeping Medicare and Social Security ‘safe’. He has stated many times that he doesn’t plan to cut Social Security and Medicare since “It’s a program that works.” The then-president-to-be promised to “fix it, not cut it.”
“I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does,” tweeted Trump in May 2015.
Back in 2015, even the Republicans didn’t believe that promise. No matter how important Social Security is to the American people, there is a budget to think about. Every time there is a budget plan, the government seems to advise that it requires some cutting. One of the biggest pieces is Social Security, which is facing a funding gap in 2034.
Fortunately, for those, who rely on Social Security benefits, 2034 is some time away. Meanwhile, Trump was trying to keep the promises made during his election campaign. Once he became president, Trump focused on dealing with taxes and Obamacare. Social Security seemed to be going strong in 2016.
Social Security faces financial challenges every year. Each president is thinking of ways to deal with the problem. But the responsibility of planning for ways to deal with the funding gap in 2034 lies on Trump’s shoulders currently. People that are planning to collect social security 17 years from now are already paying their taxes.
Fixing the Problem
Donald Trump’s views on Social Security are that it is a problem that needs to be fixed. The problem’s size has now reached 12.5 trillion dollars. While today, Donald Trump and many others believe it’s still possible to fix it, as the years go by, the chances of weathering the storm are becoming worse and worse. The program is already forced to pay out more money than it’s receiving in taxes. The government has to add the shortfall in funds, which in turn strains the budget.
By the time 2034 arrives, the government will be unable to close the gap. This will lead to people losing 23% of their social security payments since they will need to rely on the tax payments only. Every year, analysts have suggested several ways to fix the problem, including:
- Increasing the retirement age
- Raising the cap on earnings that are subject to payroll tax
- Reducing benefit increases for high earners.
If at least some of the changes aren’t made in a timely manner, 17 years from now, the country will be facing a problem. For example, trying to reduce the Social Security gap today requires increasing payroll taxes to 22%. If the government starts doing it in 2034, it would need to raise payroll tax by 32%. The difference is obvious. The time to act is now.
To Cut or Not to Cut?
However, the problem becomes slightly harder to solve without cutting Social Security benefits, an action that Donald Trump is strongly against. Instead, he plans to save the program by eliminating “fraud, waste, and abuse” while growing the economy to get an influx of revenue and close the gap.
Of course, estimates on how much time eliminating these things buys us depends on who you ask. While Donald Trump believes that this action alone could close the gap, other estimates have said it will buy the country as little as four to five months.
In May 2017, it appeared as if Donald Trump’s views on Social Security were pivoting. When planning the budget for next year, he seemed to have included a point about making cuts to the program. The 2018 budget proposal included 1.7 trillion dollars in cuts to programs over the next 10 years. These programs included food stamps (SNAP), children’s health insurance program (CHIP), and disability insurance (SSDI).
There was much contention over whether these programs were or were not part of Social Security. Many argued that disability insurance is part of the Social Security program. The abbreviation stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. Even though most people think of Social Security as the payments they get when they retire, it’s a rather big program that includes compensations to workers with disabilities that won’t allow them to continue working.
Due to the demographic changes, the Disability Insurance program has serviced many more people in recent years. The budget that the DI program requires is growing, making it a great subject for cuts. If you take these cuts at face value, it seems that since Donald Trump became president, his views on Social Security have changed drastically.
It’s hard to say whether Trump’s views on Social Security are as clear-cut today as they were two and a half years ago. When he was running for president, Mr. Trump had an image of an ideal country where the Social Security program functioned perfectly. His original waste-cutting proposal was supposed to bring the country over $143 billion over the next decade. However, it seems that this number may come up short.
Therefore, today, President Trump believes that saving the Social Security program involves some cutting. Even though Trump and many others believe this is a big step toward a better future for the seniors, the people are unsatisfied with the decision.
Republican Party on Social Security
Social Security reforms have been on the Republican agenda for a very long time. Many Republicans were disappointed when they heard President Trump’s views on the subject of Social Security did not include cuts to the program. Obviously, Republican politicians were hoping for the new president to start some long-awaited reforms. Circumstances caused a pivot, and now Donald Trump’s views are much more aligned with those of his party.
- White House 2018 budget proposal is out, and it slashes the social safety net – CNBC – https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/22/us-2018-budget-proposal-white-house-slashes-the-social-safety-net.html
- Why Social Security’s Problems Begin in 2018 – Heritage – http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/commentary/why-social-securitys-problems-begin-2018
- President Trump’s Logic on Social Security Is Backwards – Time – http://time.com/4857641/donald-trump-social-security-benefits/
- Social Security Still Isn’t Broke, New Report Confirms – Huffington Post
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