Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protestors rally against Social Security cuts on December 10, 2012 in Doral, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

New Report Shows Social Security Is Strong, But Advocates Warn GOP Must Be Stopped From Using Covid-19 to Launch 'Stealth Attack'

"Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are trying to use the pandemic as an excuse to slash payroll contributions, Social Security's dedicated funding."

Jake Johnson

The 2020 Social Security Trustees report out Wednesday found that the New Deal-era program is currently in strong financial health and well-positioned to remain so in the future.

But advocacy groups are warning that Social Security's long-term finances could be in trouble if President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are not stopped from exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to make deep cuts to the program's dedicated funding.

In a statement, progressive advocacy group Social Security Works said the annual Trustees report "projects that, even if Congress took no action whatsoever, Social Security not only can pay all benefits and associated administrative costs until 2035, it is 91% funded for the next quarter century, 85% for the next half century, and 82% for the next three quarters of a century."

"Those who would like to dismantle Social Security are using the pandemic to launch a stealth attack."
—Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

"Though the exact impact of today's pandemic and economic conditions will not be clear until next year's report, Social Security's strength will shine through next year, as well," said Social Security Works president Nancy Altman. "Social Security is built to withstand today's events."

The Trustees report came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—a proponent of Social Security cuts—claimed Tuesday night he was concerned about the rising national debt following the Senate's passage of a $480 billion coronavirus stimulus package.

"Let's weigh this very carefully, because the future of our country in terms of the amount of debt that we're adding up is a matter of genuine concern," said McConnell.

McConnell's rediscovered deficit hawkery—absent when the senator was pushing legislation through the Senate aimed at helping the superrich and large corporations—combined with the Trump administration's continued push for a payroll tax cut fueled fears that Republicans could be gearing up for another concerted effort to slash Social Security.

"Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are trying to use the pandemic as an excuse to slash payroll contributions, Social Security's dedicated funding," said Altman. As Common Dreams reported, Republicans already succeeded in slipping into the CARES Act a provision that allows employers to delay payment of the payroll tax.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Tuesday proposed reducing the employee payroll tax—one of Social Security's primary funding mechanisms—as part of the next Covid-19 stimulus package. Earlier this month, Trump expressed his support for permanently slashing the employee payroll tax.

"Social Security is strong," Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement. "But its long-term fiscal health cannot be guaranteed if the White House and Congress continue to use the program's financing structure for economic stimulus during the Covid-19 crisis." 

"Those who would like to dismantle Social Security are using the pandemic to launch a stealth attack," said Richtman. "During this time of crisis, Americans are turning to Social Security and Medicare now more than ever. Let's work to strengthen these programs that have been the bedrock of America's middle and working classes, and resist proposals by those determined to tear them down."

In an op-ed for Forbes on Wednesday, Altman urged Congress "do its job and enact one of the many Democratic proposals to expand Social Security's modest benefits while ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share," pointing to Rep. John Larson's (D-Conn.) Social Security 2100 Act as one possible solution.

"Think how much better our national response to today's crisis would be if those benefits were already there for all of us," wrote Altman. "Fortunately, the just-released Social Security Trustees Report shows that the nation can afford to create those benefits. The pandemic shows we can't afford not to do so."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'All of Rail Labor Is Going to Suffer': Workers Furious Over Biden Move to Preempt Strike

"This is a legacy-defining moment for Joe Biden," said Railroad Workers United. "He is going down as one of the biggest disappointments in labor history."

Jake Johnson ·

Citing Need for 'New, Inclusive Leadership,' Chuy García Files for Chicago Mayoral Race

"We have an opportunity to elect a trusted and experienced leader with a history of building coalitions and a vision for a brighter future for all Chicagoans," said the Democratic congressman.

Jessica Corbett ·

On Cyber Monday, Climate Activists Take Aim at Fashion Industry

"The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries globally. We can all do better, but it's on companies to make this industry better for workers, the planet, and consumers alike."

Jessica Corbett ·

Biden Accused of Selling Out Rail Workers by Urging Congress to Prevent Strike

"Biden is siding with corporate rail bosses over the rank-and-file workers who voted against this agreement," said one progressive commentator after the president urged lawmakers to take action to force through a deal without paid sick leave.

Brett Wilkins ·

Analysis Finds State Legislators Proposed 306 Bills Targeting Trans People in Past 2 Years

"Right-wing state lawmakers are obsessed with taking away the rights of trans people and we're obsessed with knocking them out of public office," said one rights group.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo