In particular, Biden’s comprehensive plan includes some provisions that would increase Social Security benefits in many cases, but this would come at the cost of additional taxes. Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t taken Social Security head-on as an issue in 2020, but some of what he’s done and proposed as president points to what he likely wants to do with the program.
Trump’s Social Security Platform: Closing the Gaps
For the most part, President Trump has not offered a specific platform on how he intends to deal with Social Security and its financial challenges. At this time, his campaign website does not include social security briefing notes.
However, actions speak louder than words, and Trump’s move from the Oval Office has attracted attention. The White House budget proposals have on several occasions been aimed at cutting social security spending, citing “inefficiencies” in the program that could generate cost savings if addressed. One particularly controversial proposal earlier this year is to add a disability review to Social Security’s disability insurance program. The new rule would require benefit recipients to provide additional information in support of their pending benefit claims on a biennial basis. Opponents have suggested that the rule would cause millions of Americans to lose their benefits despite having the right to receive them.
In addition, Trump has repeatedly called for payroll tax cuts in response to the COVID-19 crisis. However, he was not so adamant in ensuring that the general budget would reimburse Social Security trust funds for the loss of income resulting from a payroll tax holiday. Without this safety net, social security would find itself in a difficult financial situation even sooner.
Biden’s Social Security Platform: Higher Benefits, Higher Taxes
Former Vice President Biden is reportedly taking a different approach to Social Security. Rather than filling funding gaps by seeking to cut benefits, Biden would expand Social Security and impose significant taxes in order to pay for these additional benefits.
Americans pay payroll taxes on their first $ 137,700 in wages for 2020. However, high-income taxpayers stop paying additional payroll taxes once their income exceeds that threshold. This is because the additional benefits no longer exceed these income thresholds. The Biden plan would re-tax the funding of 12.4% of Social Security payroll tax on income above a certain level, with similar proposals suggesting $ 250,000 as a reasonable threshold. Opponents argue that the movement would fundamentally change the purpose of Social Security, turning what had once been a retirement income generator into a vehicle for wealth redistribution.
With this additional money, Biden would seek to consolidate Social Security benefits. In addition to addressing the sustainability of current benefit payments, the tax increase would provide additional benefits to those who have been retired for 20 years or more. It would guarantee higher minimum benefits for low-income workers and extend higher payments to surviving spouses after the death of their spouse. Biden would also eliminate some provisions that reduce Social Security benefits for families with a history of government income that were not subject to payroll tax.
A line in the sand
The differences in the positions Trump and Biden have taken on social security are as wide as the divisions between their two parties. With so much contention, most people with opinions on Social Security should find it easy to pick a preferred candidate. Sadly, the huge gulf between the two positions also shows how unlikely it is that lawmakers on Capitol Hill will be able to craft legislation that will reach Congress to get to the president’s office – whoever the president is.