The TRUST Act is a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors
Eight years ago, Mitt Romney ran for president on a promise to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He even picked Medicare’s worst enemy, Paul Ryan, to be his running mate. Fortunately, he lost.
Now, Romney is a senator trying to burnish his “moderate” credentials by acting extremely concerned about Donald Trump’s crimes—while doing nothing to stop them. But he’s still got the same plan for Social Security: Gut it.
This past October, Romney introduced the TRUST Act, which would create a fast-track, closed-door process for cutting Social Security and Medicare.
Of course, Romney isn’t saying he’d cut benefits, which is incredibly unpopular with voters of all political stripes. Instead, he’s using an Orwellian euphemism ― “strengthen.” But we know what Romney means, because politicians don’t shut the door when they’re trying to do something popular.
Any discussion about the future of Social Security should be done in the light of day, where the American people can see it. That’s just what House Democrats are doing, with the Social Security 2100 Act.
This legislation, which is co-sponsored by around 90 percent of House Democrats, increases Social Security benefits for everyone. It also has additional targeted increases for the most vulnerable beneficiaries. On top of that, it addresses Romney’s alleged mathematical concerns by keeping the Social Security trust fund strong into the next century and beyond.
All of this is fully paid for, in part by requiring the wealthiest Americans ― like Romney ― to pay into Social Security at the same rate as the rest of us. Currently, Romney and his fellow millionaires stop paying into Social Security for the year after their first $137,700 in income. The 2100 Act also includes a modest, gradual increase in the overall payroll contribution rate.
If Romney really cared about “strengthening” Social Security, he’d sign onto the 2100 Act. But he hasn’t ― and neither has any other Republican. That’s because the entire party is in thrall to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax ideology, and they hate tax increases on the wealthy most of all.
Republicans don’t want to “save” Social Security. They want to, in Norquist’s famous words, “drown it in the bathtub.”
A few Democrats are co-sponsors of the TRUST Act, but thankfully they are outliers in their party. That wasn’t always the case. A decade ago, “very serious people” in both parties were clamoring for a bipartisan deal to cut benefits, leading to the creation of the infamous Bowles-Simpson committee. Not coincidentally, the co-chair of that committee recently endorsed the TRUST Act.
Grassroots activism defeated Bowles-Simpson, and changed the conversation in Washington. The Democratic Party is now nearly united in support of protecting and expanding Social Security. Every major candidate in the Democratic presidential primary has a plan to expand Social Security.
Even Donald Trump ran on a promise not to cut Social Security, a marked departure from Romney’s campaign four years before. Like most of what Trump says, that promise was a lie, but it shows just how politically toxic Social Security cuts are.
The TRUST Act is a relic from a bygone era. Fortunately, it’s not 2010 anymore. The Social Security 2100 Act is sponsored by 209 House members, while the TRUST Act is sponsored by 12. The American people have long supported expanding, not cutting, Social Security. Mitt Romney isn’t listening, but most Democrats are.
Alex Lawson is executive director Social Security Works.