Former U.S. president and 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump

Former U.S. president and 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a Super Tuesday election night watch party at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 5, 2024.

(Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

'Social Security Is on the Ballot,' Say Advocates as Trump Threatens Cuts

"Not on my watch," said President Joe Biden in response to his Republican predecessor's latest threats to the safety net program.

With U.S. President Joe Biden's proposed 2025 budget released by the White House Monday just after former President Donald Trump issued his latest threat to slash Social Security and other safety net programs, economic justice groups said the choice between the two 2024 candidates could not be clearer.

"Make no mistake: Social Security is on the ballot this November," said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works after Trump phoned in to CNBC's "Squawk Box" to say that "there is a lot you can do... in terms of cutting" so-called "entitlements" like the program for retirees as well as Medicaid and Medicare.

"And in terms of, also, the theft and the bad management of entitlements—tremendous bad management of entitlements—there's tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do," said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

While Trump's answer was "largely gibberish," according to former National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti, his "express support for cutting Social Security and Medicare" was made clear.

A spokesperson for Trump's campaign said his comments were about cutting "waste" in the programs, but the remarks followed the former president's attempts to cut Social Security in all of the budget proposals he released during his term.

"It is consistent with Trump's past calls to privatize Social Security and raise the retirement age, as well as his slandering it as a 'Ponzi scheme,'" said Altman. "It is also consistent with the House Republican FY2025 budget, which proposes creating a commission designed to slash Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors."

The Republicans' budget proposal, which the House Budget Committee advanced last week, includes a so-called "fiscal commission" that would be empowered to fast-track Social Security and Medicare cuts.

"The contrast is clear," said U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). "Democrats want to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare. The other party wants to end the programs as we know them."

Before winning the 2016 election, Trump called to raise the retirement age to 70 and promised to rescind the payroll tax—the taxes working people pay to fund Social Security and Medicare. He has frequently said cutting the programs, which about 70 million people rely on for post-retirement financial security and healthcare, was necessary to maintain their long-term solvency.

Despite Republicans' frequent claims that Americans' earned benefit programs are "bankrupting the country," Social Security is currently fully solvent—able to pay out full benefits to all beneficiaries—through 2034, and even if Congress took no action to expand the program, would be able to cover 80% of benefits after 2034. Medicare is currently solvent through 2028.

On social media, Biden responded to Trump's plan for the programs with four words: "Not on my watch."

Altman noted that Biden's proposed budget included "a very different vision for Social Security's future," with the president releasing a plan Monday "for protecting and expanding Social Security—and paying for it by requiring millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share."

Under a second Biden term, the White House said, there would be no benefit cuts to Social Security, and wealthy Americans—who currently do not pay Social Security taxes on all of their income, such as capital gains—would be required to pay "their fair share" to ensure retirees can continue to benefit from the program.

The Biden budget would also extend the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund permanently "by modestly increasing the Medicare tax rate on incomes above $400,000, closing loopholes in existing Medicare taxes, and directing revenue from the Net Investment Income Tax into the HI Trust Fund as was originally intended."

"Current law lets certain wealthy business owners avoid Medicare taxes on some of the profits they get from passthrough businesses," said the White House. "The budget closes this loophole and raises Medicare tax rates on earned and unearned income from 3.8% to 5% for those with incomes over $400,000."

Advocacy group Americans for Tax Fairness pointed out that with Trump's plan to extend his 2017 tax cuts—which disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthy and made billionaires $2.2 trillion richer—$3.5 trillion would be added to federal government's deficit.

"If anyone tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop them," said Biden on Monday after the release of his budget proposal. "Working people built this country, and pay more into Social Security than millionaires and billionaires do. It's not fair."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

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