No, President Donald Trump is not going after Social Security.
Clarifying earlier remarks from the president, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow announced Sunday that Trump is not making permanent cuts to payroll taxes, the Washington Examiner reported. Trump himself has also pushed back on the claims from Democrats, who fear eliminating the tax and, with it, entitlements like Social Security.
Trump gives temporary relief
Trump signed a series of executive orders on Saturday to extend financial relief for Americans struggling through the coronavirus pandemic, including an order that would temporarily suspend the payroll tax through the rest of the year for Americans making less than $100,000, as UPI reported.
According to the Examiner, the president also went further and suggested that the cut could be made “permanent” if he wins a second term. Like clockwork, Democrats accused him of trespassing on Congress’ powers and threatening Social Security and Medicare. But that’s not exactly what he meant.
In a contentious interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, Larry Kudlow said that entitlements will be left intact and that Trump meant that a deferral on payroll taxes will be permanently forgiven — not that Trump wants to eliminate the tax entirely.
“When he referred to permanent, I think what he was saying is that the deferral of the payroll tax to the end of the year will be made permanent. It will be forgiven. The tax is not going away. We’re still going to have the Social Security tax,” Kudlow said, according to the Examiner.
He went on: “I believe he was referring to doing away with the payback of the deferral, and I think his intent here, and it’s written in the [executive order], it’s very clear, that we will take any steps possible to forgive this deferral.”
Wage boost for workers
According to the New York Post, Trump said Sunday that he is considering a “permanent” cut but that it would have “no impact on Social Security.”
The president had talked up the payroll tax cut for months before following through over the weekend, after talks between Republicans and Democrats on the next coronavirus relief package went kaput. According to UPI, Democrats have said that Trump’s orders, which also include an evictions moratorium, student loan relief, and a $400 unemployment enhancement, are unconstitutional and do not go far enough to help Americans.
But while acknowledging that many are still unemployed, Kudlow said that the tax cut would provide a considerable boon to millions of Americans.
“We’re giving 140 million people who work through this pandemic, they’re heroes, we’re giving them about a $1200 wage increase after tax,” Kudlow said Sunday, according to the Examiner.
It remains to be seen what comes of this, but there’s little doubt that Trump is thinking boldly — as is needed.