By now, many people have learned to seriously question most of what presidential hopeful Joe Biden has to say. His recent conduct demonstrates that his words are either not true or so nonsensical that they deserve no serious consideration. On Saturday, Biden once again fortified that perception when he criticized one of President Trump’s recent executive order(s) regarding the suspension of the payroll tax and its potential impact on Social Security. Not only was Biden’s criticism unwarranted, it was also nonsensical and hypocritical in light of his long and sketchy record on this very issue.
On Saturday, Trump signed four executive orders that were meant to help Americans who were suffering financially as a result of the coronavirus. Trump’s executive orders provided for the following:
Under his EO, unemployment benefits are extended. The amount, however, has dropped to $400 a week.
Payroll tax cuts will go into effect on Sept. 1 for those making $100,000 or less. Trump vowed to make this permanent if he’s re-elected.
Student loan payments are suspended through the end of the year. Interest rates will remain at zero percent.
The housing moratorium has also been extended, protecting renters from being evicted.
Immediately after the president took this decisive action, Biden moved into critical mode, attacking the president’s decision to cut payroll taxes. Specifically, according to the Hill, Biden called it a “reckless war on Social Security”:
He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security,” Biden said. “Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.
Unfortunately for Biden, his own record once again discredits his alleged concern regarding social security. While it is possible, and quite likely that Biden simply “forgot,” he has consistently called for cuts to Social Security. As reported by the Intercept, in a 1984 Senate floor speech, Biden was quoted as saying:
So, when those of my friends in the Democratic and Republican Party say to me, “How do you expect me to vote for your proposal? Does it not freeze Social Security COLAs for one year? Are we not saying there will be no cost-of-living increases for one year?” The answer to that is “Yes, that is what I am saying.”
In 1995, Biden told the Senate:
When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.
Additionally, at a Brookings Institute event in 2018, Biden stated:
Paul Ryan was correct when he did the tax code. What’s the first thing he decided we had to go after? Social Security and Medicare. Now, we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare. That’s the only way you can find room to pay for it.
There are many other instances where Biden has pushed for cutting Social Security which can be found here.
Let’s not deceive ourselves: Trump’s decision to cut payroll taxes was done to help Americans who are suffering due to the impacts of the coronavirus shutdowns. It is also limited to those individuals earning $100,000 or less. According to Fox News, citing White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, “The payroll tax deferral President Trump enacted via executive order on Saturday would save the average person about $1,200 over four months beginning in September.”
In addition, Trump’s recent executive order only suspends payroll taxes—it doesn’t eliminate them entirely. While some are concerned with the president’s decision to eliminate payroll taxes because such taxes are the “lifeline” of Social Security benefits funding, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disagrees that this should be a concern As reported by Kiplinger, Mnuchin advised that Social Security and Medicare funding won’t drop and that “[m]oney will be transferred from the federal government’s general fund to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds to cover any payroll tax amounts not collected.”
Of course, the president and Congress ultimately will have to decide how to handle the deferred taxes when they become due. The payroll tax cuts and the other benefits provided by Trump’s recent executive orders, however, will provide a much-needed boost to small businesses, those who are unemployed, and many Americans who are in need right now because of government-ordered shutdowns. As has always been the case with President Trump, he puts the well-being of Americans above everything else. These executive orders are no different.
Despite Biden’s long and irrefutable record of calling for cuts to Social Security, he now appears miraculously to have reversed his stance. Now, he allegedly supports making Social Security more generous, not less. Of course, as the cliché goes, talk is cheap, and at the end of the day, Biden’s record speaks for itself.
Despite what Biden says, which seems to change like the wind, there is no reason to believe that he has changed his position now. Rather, his decision to attack the president’s recent executive order is yet another example of hypocrisy by a candidate who just can’t seem to get his stories straight.