Vote to protect Social Security

Phil Anderson

“Working people voting for Republicans is like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving.” Bumper sticker.

“ soon as 2025, as many as 30 million Americans, many of them originally middle class, will find themselves either poor or “near-poor.” From “How to Solve the Retirement Crisis: A Politico Working Group Report”

People often vote against their own best interests. The voters in Northwest Wisconsin are no exception. This election many Wisconsin “turkeys” will be voting to get stuffed and roasted. Social Security is one of the issues on which these people are being bamboozled into voting against themselves.
My mailbox has been full of campaign fliers that claim Trump will protect Social Security while Biden will destroy American’s future retirement benefits. This message is the exact opposite of the truth. But, judging from the many Trump yard signs all over the area, many people believe this nonsense and will be voting against their own retirement security.

Many people in Northwest Wisconsin are poor. The 7th congressional district covers 20 counties in northern Wisconsin. The median income is $15,000 below the state average. The district is 96% white and almost 60% rural. The largest industry is agriculture. Many of the paper mill, mining, manufacturing, and railroad jobs have downsized or disappeared. But the district consistently votes to elect Republicans who have never done anything to help poor people.

Government activities and services are essential for rural communities. Without government provided (or subsidized) roads, schools, electricity, or telecommunications and jobs rural areas would be backwaters of poverty. Government is the financial foundation of rural communities. The family supporting county, state, school district or federal jobs are the backbone of many local economies. So when the people of rural, small town areas like Northwest Wisconsin vote to “get government off our backs” they are cutting their own throats. They are turkeys voting for Thanksgiving.

If Trump and his lies about Social Security prevail many of these people will be hurt. Twenty percent of Wisconsin residents receive income from Social Security. Two out of five of these people would live in poverty without Social Security. One third of Wisconsin households (and 75% of low income households) will be entirely dependent on Social Security for retirement income. These people have no company pensions, 401Ks, or significant savings.

Social Security also helps people who are not senor citizens. Social Security is a disability insurance program and it supports widows and children of deceased workers. People under 65 receive 32% of Social Security income in Wisconsin. Social Security has a $28 billion dollar impact on Wisconsin’s economy each year. Social Security is important for everyone and for the economy.

People should remember that Social Security is an EARNED BENEFIT that people contribute to over their entire working lives. It is not a handout, “welfare,” or socialism. It provides stable, guaranteed, non-stock market based retirement income. The size of the benefits vary with the a person’s lifetime earnings so the monthly benefit can be small (average $1064 per month). But those benefits are there every month. Social Security is an employment based program and both employees and employers contribute to its financial strength. These contributions (payroll taxes) are essential to the financial strength of both Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans originally opposed the creation of Social Security in 1935. But the program was a huge success. Over time it was responsible for raising many seniors out of poverty and contributed to senior citizens being the financially best off demographic in the country. Social Security was so popular with the public the program was politically untouchable.

But since 1980 this success story has been undermined by Republicans. They have falsely claimed the program was unsustainable and was going bankrupt. This was intended to scare people into changing Social Security from a public insurance program into a private investment scheme. George W. Bush proposed allowing individuals to put their Social Security contributions into the stock markets. As the 2008 market meltdown showed, this would not be a good plan for most people. Wall Street investment “advisers,” and the financial services industry would be handed a goose laying golden eggs while the vast major of people would get burned with higher risk, investment fees, and wild, irrational market volatility.

The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to cut Social Security disability and survivor benefits in his budget proposals. He also proposed, as a way to boost the economy during the pandemic, to suspend collection of Social Security payroll taxes. This crazy idea was rejected by Congress so he issued an executive order to do it although this action was probably illegal. Trump has also publicly said he would make the payroll tax “holiday” permanent if reelected.

Suspending payroll taxes that are the core funding for Social Security (and Medicare) would destroy the program. It will NOT help people out of work because of the pandemic. Obviously unemployed people are not paying employment taxes and will not benefit from their suspension. This executive order is NOT helping the economy either. Many employers, afraid that the program is illegal and they will get stuck with back payments, are still collecting the taxes.

All this proves Trump is not strengthening or protecting Security Security. He is lying about Social Security.
All politicians spin the truth to their advantage. But none have come close to Trump’s record of constant untruthfulness. The New York Post has counted over 20,000 statements by Trump since his inauguration that were false or misleading.
Bill Lueders, editor of The Progressive magazine said, “The problem is not just that Trump is a pathological liar.” The real danger is that he gets away with it because there is “a willingness on the part of large swaths of the American public to believe anything, thanks to a President who lies about everything.”

Don’t believe the false campaign advertising. Don’t allow Trump to play political games with the financial security of millions of American and their EARNED Social Security benefits. Vote to protect Social Security by throwing out the liar-in-chief and his enablers.