Claims from a group backed by the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations that President Donald Trump wants to “terminate” Social Security have been rejected by USA Today.
The claims, made by Social Security Works, a nonprofit partially funded by liberal billionaire Soros and focused on expanding Social Security and improving Medicare, was based on comments Trump made recently that temporary payroll tax cuts he made through an executive order will become permanent if he is re-elected.
Trump signed an executive order that temporarily stops employers from taking the money that funds Social Security and Medicare out of employees’ paychecks.
“This will mean bigger paychecks for working families, as we race to produce a vaccine and eradicate the China virus once and for all,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript.
“If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So I’m going to make them all permanent.”
Later in his speech, Trump said, “I’ll extend it beyond the end of the year and terminate the tax.”
Social Security Works seized upon the word “terminate” and used it to attack Trump.
“Millions of seniors and people with disabilities struggle to make ends meet. Yet Donald Trump says he will ‘terminate’ Social Security if reelected. That’s a disastrous plan,” the group said in a recent Facebook post.
Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a tax policy nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., said wiping out the tax is not the same as eliminating Social Security, according to USA Today, which investigated the allegation in its fact-checking column.
“Strictly speaking, Social Security could be funded using general fund revenue or alternative revenue source, so terminating a tax and terminating a program are distinct things,” Watson wrote in an email to the news outlet.
However, Linda Benesch, a spokeswoman for Social Security Works, said cutting the tax means cutting benefits.
“Nearly 90 percent of Social Security’s funding comes from payroll contributions, and if Trump terminated payroll contributions, the other funding sources would be insufficient,” Benesch said in an email to USA Today. “By law, Social Security is forbidden from paying benefits if there is not sufficient revenue to cover the cost.”
But Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, acknowledged that steps Trump has taken so far “aren’t going to end Social Security.”
She told USA Today that the Social Security trust fund has a $2.9 trillion surplus, enough to last three years without any new tax revenue.
Social Security Works has tweeted its support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
85 years after FDR signed Social Security into law, it is on the ballot.
— SocialSecurityWorks (@SSWorks) August 15, 2020
Zach Parkinson, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, said connecting a tax cut with Social Security benefits is “misinformation.”
“President Trump has been clear: A payroll tax cut will have ‘zero impact’ on Social Security benefits or the seniors that rely on the program,” Parkinson told USA Today. “He supports transferring money from the government’s general coffers, protecting the program’s Trust Fund.”
USA Today rejected the contention of Social Security Works.
“Based on our research, the claim that Trump said he will “terminate” Social Security if he is reelected is PARTLY FALSE. Trump recently signed an order offering temporary relief from the payroll tax that funds Social Security, and he has repeatedly said he’d terminate the tax entirely if he’s reelected,” USA Today wrote.
“But ending the tax that pays for Social Security and ending the Social Security program itself are not the same,” the newspaper concluded.
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