For most of us, Covid-19 is a devastating crisis. But for some politicians in Washington, D.C. and their Wall Street backers, it's an opportunity. They are trying to use the pandemic to cut our Social Security and Medicare benefits behind closed doors, using a bill with an Orwellian name—the TRUST Act.
"Attaching the TRUST Act to crisis legislation is the most evil part of this. Those pushing the TRUST Act understand that if their bill was simply given a normal up or down vote, supporters of Social Security and Medicare could easily defeat it. That's why they're trying to sneak it through in unrelated crisis legislation."
The TRUST Act creates a closed-door committee to fast-track cuts to our earned benefits. And now, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have put the bill on a fast-track of its own by including it in the Republican Covid-19 package known as the HEALS Act.
These politicians, who are plotting to use this public health crisis as a vehicle to ram through cuts to our earned benefits, are scum. The American people will never forget that they used the worst global emergency of modern times to try and steal our Social Security and Medicare. We will never forgive them for this, and will dedicate our resources to defeating them wherever they are.
Most of the politicians pushing this evil plan are Republicans. Prominent Democrats are speaking out against it, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and lead Senate negotiator on the relief packages. Wyden minces no words about the Trust Act:
True to form, Republicans are trying to gut Social Security and Medicare in the middle of a pandemic. This bill doubles down on using secret, closed-door panels to undo these earned benefits. I will oppose any bill that includes a fast lane to cut Social Security and Medicare. https://t.co/eCio9Ltgzc— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 28, 2020
Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) was similarly blunt in his description and condemnation of this attack on our earned benefits:
The TRUST Act will result in far-reaching cuts to Social Security and Medicare—that is the intention of the bill. The legislation sets up closed-door commissions to fast-track the destruction of these programs. In 2010, a similar closed-door commission made cuts to the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA); hiked the retirement age (which is an across-the-board benefit cut for all retirees); changed the Social Security benefit formula to reduce the amount people receive each month; and made cuts to Medicare that forced seniors and individuals with disabilities to pay more for drugs, doctor visits, and hospital care by increasing cost-sharing like co-pays.
The last thing struggling Americans need right now is a secret panel designed to slash their earned benefits and further undermine their economic security. It’s astonishing that attacking Social Security and Medicare are Republicans’ priorities at this moment, not protecting people’s health care or ensuring families can afford to stay in their homes and put food on the table.
Rep. John Larson (D-CT), lifelong champion of Social Security and chair of the Social Security subcommittee, condemned it with the strongest language possible:
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This is a direct assault on Social Security benefits. The TRUST Act Commission would make it easier to fast track cuts, while ignoring the urgent needs to strengthen Social Security, especially during this pandemic. This would just kick the can down the road and ignore regular order. It’s Congress’s responsibility to do this correctly and vote! As Chairman Neal points out, we have seen this before with the 2010 Bowles-Simpson report, which proposed major Social Security and Medicare cuts.
Instead, what we need to do is enact the Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act to increase benefits, rather than cut them.
But a small splinter group of Democrats, publicly led by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), supports the TRUST Act. They are the most reprehensible of all, for giving it bipartisan cover.
It’s not too late for politicians who originally supported the TRUST Act, when it was first introduced in January, to partially redeem themselves. They need to make it clear that even though they supported the bill, they do not support holding the pandemic response package hostage to jam it through behind the American people's backs.
"What Krysten Sinema is doing is holding financial relief for millions of Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own hostage in order to cut our Medicare benefits. It is sick, even by the gutter standards of the current reality."
Attaching the TRUST Act to crisis legislation is the most evil part of this. Those pushing the TRUST Act understand that if their bill was simply given a normal up or down vote, supporters of Social Security and Medicare could easily defeat it. That's why they're trying to sneak it through in unrelated crisis legislation.
We would welcome the opportunity to defeat their legislation in regular order, to again demonstrate that the American people are united behind our Social Security and Medicare and will beat back each and every Wall Street-financed attack on them.
To be clear, what Mitt Romney and his ilk are doing is holding personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors hostage so they can cut our Social Security benefits. What Krysten Sinema is doing is holding financial relief for millions of Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own hostage in order to cut our Medicare benefits. It is sick, even by the gutter standards of the current reality.
Their justification for including the TRUST Act in the Covid-19 package is telling. They claim that with this coronavirus relief package adding to the deficit, we need the TRUST Act to "rein in the national debt." What they don't mention? Social Security doesn't add a single penny to the debt (even Ronald Reagan understood that), while Medicare is far more cost-effective than private insurance.
This isn't really about the deficit. It's about achieving a long-standing right-wing ideological goal to cut our earned benefits—and using the Covid-19 catastrophe to do it. That's why even AARP, which is studiously non-partisan and rarely takes a stance on Social Security legislation, has come out against including the TRUST Act in the next pandemic relief package.
Let me be very clear, we will defeat every attack on our Social Security, every single time. But we will add a special emphasis on defeating anyone who supports using the deaths of 150,000 Americans as justification for cutting earned benefits for millions more.