Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaks to reporters as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' weekly lunch on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

GOP Coronavirus Relief Package to Include Romney Bill That Would 'Fast-Track Social Security and Medicare Cuts'

"They will use every opportunity and every crisis—including the mass death and economic carnage from Covid—as cover for their sick desire to destroy our Social Security system."

Jake Johnson

Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney that one advocacy group described as an "equally menacing" threat to the New Deal program.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell touted Romney's TRUST ACT as "a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, to help a future Congress evaluate bipartisan proposals for protecting and strengthening the programs that Americans count on."

"In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, they should be focused on protecting seniors, essential workers, and the unemployed. Instead, they are plotting to use the cover of the pandemic to slash Social Security."
—Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

Ostensibly an effort to "rescue" America's trust fund programs, Romney's bill—first introduced last October with the backing of three Democratic senators—would initiate a secretive process that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, a longtime objective of lawmakers like the Utah Republican.

Romney celebrated the inclusion of his bill Thursday and pointed to statements praising the legislation from a slew of right-wing advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity.

The Utah Republican's bill currently has 13 Senate co-sponsors, five of whom are members of the Democratic caucus. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, 30 House Democrats joined 30 of their Republican colleagues in endorsing the TRUST Act.

"Donald Trump and his stooges in the Senate can't stop trying to rob us of our Social Security," Alex Lawson, executive director of advocacy group Social Security Works, told Common Dreams in response to McConnell's remarks. "They will use every opportunity and every crisis—including the mass death and economic carnage from Covid—as cover for their sick desire to destroy our Social Security system."

If passed, Romney's bill would give the Treasury Department 45 days to deliver a report to Congress on America's "endangered" trust funds. Congress would then set up one "rescue committee" per trust fund with a mandate to craft legislation that—in the words of Romney's office—"restores solvency and otherwise improves each trust fund program."

Legislation proposed by the committees would receive expedited consideration in the House and Senate—meaning no amendments would be permitted. Any bill would still need 60 votes to clear the upper chamber.

"This would allow benefit cuts to be fast-tracked through Congress," said Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "Seniors and people with disabilities need their benefits boosted, not slashed. Like payroll tax cuts, the TRUST Act is bad medicine for everyday Americans struggling to stay financially afloat, especially during the Covid crisis."

Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, warned the TRUST ACT is "a way to undermine the economic security of Americans without political accountability."

"Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and all congressional Republicans have made their priorities clear," said Altman. "In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, they should be focused on protecting seniors, essential workers, and the unemployed. Instead, they are plotting to use the cover of the pandemic to slash Social Security."

"Democrats must stand united," Altman continued, "and unequivocally reject any package that includes the TRUST Act."

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee and co-sponsor of legislation that would expand benefits, called Romney's TRUST Act "a direct assault on Social Security" that must be opposed.

"During a pandemic, people are relying on Social Security now more than ever," Larson said in a statement Thursday. "These are Americans' earned benefits. Cutting them will only further hurt the economy."

As part of their effort to hold Republican lawmakers accountable for pushing Social Security cuts, Social Security Works and Tax March on Thursday launched mobile billboards targeting GOP senators in Iowa, Maine, Arizona, and North Carolina.

"Senate Republicans are rubber stamps who are happy to raid our Social Security system to please Trump," said Lawson. "We say to both Trump and Senate Republicans: Hands off our earned benefits!"


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.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·


Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo