Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a new message for Florida seniors: President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to fix the economic crisis could put their retirement at risk.
In a new ad that will air exclusively in the Sunshine State, Biden’s campaign accuses Trump of stealing from Social Security to pay for a new round of coronavirus relief.
Trump signed an executive order over the weekend giving millions of Americans a four-month break from payroll taxes, a short-term boost in paychecks that equates to about $75 for someone making the median weekly wage of $1,000.
But those payroll taxes make up 90 percent of the funding for Medicare and Social Security, the government programs enjoyed by so many Florida retirees — and voters.
“Nearly 4 million Florida seniors rely on social security and once again Donald Trump’s failed leadership is hitting seniors the hardest,” the ad says.
Trump seemed certain his latest coronavirus-related executive actions, which circumvented a Congress stalemated by divisions within his Republican Party, would score a political victory for him. He doubled down on the idea of a payroll tax holiday with an ultimatum to voters: “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” Trump said.
But that promise would lead to an uncertain future for Social Security, the people who already rely on it and the people who are expecting it to be there when they retire. The program is already in a funding crunch due to the country’s aging population and made worse by the last decade’s recession and the recent unemployment crisis caused by the pandemic.
The Biden ad equated Trump’s proposal to “slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from the Social Security trust fund every year.”
PolitiFact recently deemed a Facebook post claiming, “Killing the payroll tax means killing Social Security” as Half True, noting that, “The program’s promise to people exists outside of the funding mechanism.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Trump administration would replenish the program with money from the general revenue, which requires an act of Congress. That’s what happened while Biden was vice president and former President Barack Obama’s administration pushed through a temporary payroll tax cut.
However, Trump’s promise to do away with employee payroll taxes would require a much more elaborate fix to ensure Social Security’s future, and Trump hasn’t outlined any ideas.
The ad marks the second time in two weeks that Biden’s campaign has attempted to drive a wedge between Trump and Florida seniors. A previous ad featured a senior couple who criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus. It aired in the Tampa and Orlando markets, which include two of the largest retirement communities in the state: Sun City Center and The Villages.