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Donald Trump Promises to Protect the Welfare State

by | Mar 9, 2023

Donald Trump Promises to Protect the Welfare State

by | Mar 9, 2023

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In a recent brief video message to his supporters, former president and current 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump warned Republicans about cutting Medicare or Social Security:

Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security to help pay for Joe Biden’s reckless spending spree…Do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security. Don’t destroy it! The Democrats are looking to destroy Social Security. We’re not going to let them do it.

Senator J. D. Vance (R-Ohio) tweeted that Trump was “100 percent correct.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said that “cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table in talks around raising the debt limit.”

Trump and the Republicans don’t just want to spare Medicare and Social Security from cuts so that Biden and the Democrats don’t have extra money to spend. They want to protect these programs from cuts no matter what in order to ensure the votes of senior citizens.

Trump’s comments should come as no surprise. In his speech at the 2020 Republican convention, Trump said: “We will protect Medicare and Social Security.” In his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump released a set of core priorities for a second term that included a promise to “protect Social Security and Medicare.”

Regardless of progressive and Democratic fearmongering, Republicans have no intention of ever cutting Medicare or Social Security. Republicans—from the most conservative members of Congress on down—are proud to be the party of Social Security and Medicare. “Reform not repeal” has always been the Republicans’ position on the two largest entitlement programs that account for about 13 and 17 percent of the federal budget, respectively.

In 2020, the Republican National Committee’s Executive Committee voted to adopt the same party platform used in 2016. Here is what that platform says about Republican plans for Social Security and Medicare:

As the party of America’s future, we accept the responsibility to preserve and modernize a system of retirement security forged in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans. Current retirees and those close to retirement can be assured of their benefits. Of the many reforms being proposed, all options should be considered to preserve Social Security. As Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system. Saving Social Security is more than a challenge. It is our moral obligation to those who trusted in the government’s word.

More than 100 million Americans depend on Medicare or Medicaid for their healthcare; with our population aging, that number will increase. To preserve Medicare and Medicaid, the financing of these important programs must be brought under control before they consume most of the federal budget, including national defense. The good news is that it can be done, and it can be done without endangering the elderly and the needy who depend on those programs. We intend to save Medicare by modernizing it, empowering its participants, and putting it on a secure financial footing. We will preserve the promise of Medicaid as well by making that program, designed for 1965 medicine, a vehicle for good health in an entirely new era.

Trump’s big lie, which is shared by all Democrats and Republicans, as well as most Americans of any political persuasion, is that seniors are entitled to Medicare and Social Security benefits because they worked for and paid for them their entire lives.

The only reason anyone thinks that people pay for Medicare and Social Security is because of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) that mandates “contributions” from employees and employers that are called Medicare and Social Security taxes.

The Medicare tax rate is 2.9 percent (split equally between employer and employee) on every dollar earned. There is also an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax that just employees pay on earnings over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly).

The Social Security tax rate is 12.4 percent (split equally between employer and employee) on the first $160,200 of wages.

Self-employed individuals pay the full 2.9 and 12.4 percent, but they receive both a reduction in their net earnings from self-employment and a tax deduction equal to 50 percent of the amount of the Medicare and Social Security taxes they paid.

One must pay Medicare and Social Security taxes for a minimum of 40 quarters, or 10 years, to be eligible for benefits.

What Trump said about Medicare and Social Security is a big lie. Medicare and Social Security benefits don’t correspond to Medicare and Social Security taxes paid. The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no contractual right to receive Social Security benefits. Congress can change Medicare and Social Security benefits at any time and for any reason. Congress can raise the retirement age to receive Social Security and the Medicare eligibility age so that you might die before you are able to receive any benefits. Up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits are taxable if one’s income is over $34,000 (individuals) or $44,000 (married couples). Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) is the only part of Medicare that is “free.” Part B (medical coverage) has a monthly premium that is deducted from Social Security benefits. Part D (prescription drug coverage) is also extra. Current retirees receive Medicare and Social Security benefits via taxes collected from current workers, not from funds saved out of the payroll taxes retirees paid when they were in the workforce.

In his video message, Trump said that instead of cutting Medicare and Social Security, we need to “cut the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars going to corrupt foreign countries, cut the mass releases of illegal aliens that are depleting our social safety net and destroying our country, cut the left-wing gender programs from our military, cut the billions being spent on climate extremism, cut waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere that we can find it.”

Yet, during the first two years that Trump was the president, when he had a Republican majority in the Congress, what did he do to cut these things? Absolutely nothing. Instead, he and the Republicans increased the national debt by trillions of dollars—exactly like Biden and the Democrats.

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished with permission.

Laurence Vance

Laurence Vance

Laurence M. Vance is a columnist and policy adviser for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger, and book reviewer at LewRockwell.com. He is also the author of Social Insecurity and The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. His newest books are War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy.

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