Former Vice President Joe Biden may have set a record by breaking a campaign promise three months before Election Day. Biden promised voters “no malarkey,” but his latest attempt to scare senior citizens is nothing but malarkey.
A few weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order that allows employers to defer the collection of payroll taxes for workers earning less than $104,000 annually. The order allows people to keep more of their earnings for four months, through the end of 2020, at a time when every dollar counts. The deferral could save the average American $1,200 this year.
Nothing in the president’s order affects Social Security’s solvency. The order simply defers a portion of payroll taxes until next year when, with luck and courage, the economy could return to full speed.
Biden should applaud this move. In 2010, in the midst of the global financial crisis, President Obama cut payroll taxes by two percent. Obama explained that “economists across the political spectrum agree” that a payroll tax cut “is one of the most powerful things we can do to create jobs and boost economic growth.” In 2012, now-Speaker Pelosi applauded the tax cut’s renewal as “a temporary measure to help give us a boost.”
Now, the administration is exploring a plan to forgive these four months of deferred taxes – not to eliminate Social Security’s taxes or benefits. If Congress agrees, most American workers would have those deferred payroll taxes forgiven, and general revenues would make up the difference. That’s it. In a recent letter to Congress, the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary confirmed that no one has proposed “hypothetical legislation” to end payroll taxes.
So, why is Joe Biden trying to mislead voters about President Trump’s efforts to provide emergency relief to Americans, a measure that follows a precedent set by President Obama?
Perhaps the former vice president misunderstands the executive order, but more likely, he is attempting to distract voters from his own mixed record. During the 1980s, Senator Biden wanted to freeze all government spending, including Social Security. During the recent primaries, Senator Bernie Sanders reminded Democratic primary voters that, “Joe Biden has been on the floor of the Senate talking about the need to cut Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid.”
In sharp contrast, President Trump has committed to protecting Social Security benefits. At his State of the Union address in February, President Trump stated, unequivocally, “we will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.”
Beyond Trump’s explicit commitment to the program, one of the best ways to protect Social Security’s revenues are through policies that grow the economy and lead to full employment — low taxes, limited regulation and rewards for investment — the very same policies that the president has adopted during his first term.
Asheesh Agarwal served in the Trump Administration as General Counsel to the Social Security Administration. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of Indian Voices for Trump.