The Villages Democratic Club
National Retirees Legislative Network
NRLN President's Forum
Presidential Candidates and Social Security
It is politics as usual during this presidential election year. One of the issues important to retirees that has emerged is the funding of Social Security.
Because the National Retiree Legislative Network is a non-partisan organization, I believe I have a responsibility to try to be as objective as possible in my comments about Donald Trump, the 2020 Republican candidate, and Joe Biden, the Democrat candidate for President, and Social Security.
On August 8th President Trump issued a COVID-19 economic stimulus executive order that included the deferral of employees' portion of the payroll tax from September 1 through the end of 2020. A 12.4% payroll tax split evenly between employers and workers earning up to $137,700 (for 2020) is an important funding source for Social Security. (Medicare is partially funded by a separate employer/worker payroll tax of 2.9%. The President's tax deferral does not apply to this payroll tax.)
President Trump stated during a press conference on August 12th, "At the end of the year, with the assumption that I win, I'm going to terminate the payroll tax." He went on to say that Social Security would be paid for through the General Fund.
The executive order stated: "the Secretary of the Treasury shall explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes deferred pursuant to the implementation of this memorandum." President Trump cited his authority to defer collection of the employee portion of Social Security FICA taxes by reason of a presidentially-declared disaster due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Only Congress can terminate the payroll tax. On May 5, 2020, I sent letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Senate Committee on Finance to urge them to oppose President Trump's repeated requests to suspend the payroll tax. With House and Senate Democrats and many Republicans against the elimination of the payroll tax, it is unclear how President Trump could terminate the payroll tax if he is reelected.
The Biden campaign quickly issued an ad stating that Donald Trump "signed an executive action directing funding cuts for Social Security."
There is an old adage that, "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones." That could also apply to politics.
In 1973, Senator Biden supported a 7% increase in monthly Social Security benefits. However, in 1984, Senator Biden - during budget negotiations -- co-sponsored a spending freeze plan that included the Social Security cost-of-living adjustments for the year. The proposal was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 65 to 33.
In 1995, Senator Biden supported an amendment to prevent Social Security cuts from being in any balanced budget legislation. A year later, he suggested raising the retirement age by one year and reducing the cost-of-living adjustment by 1% as a way to prevent the future insolvency of Social Security.
On September 8, 2019, the NRLN issued an Action Alert supporting H.R. 860 / S. 269, the Social Security 2100 Act. The bill comes the closest to the NRLN's position to make Social Security financially strong for our generation, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The NRLN, retiree associations and chapter leaders lobbied for the bill on Capitol Hill during our 2019 and 2020 fly-ins to Washington, DC. Unfortunately, no action has been taken on the Social Security 2100 Act in the House or the Senate.
As we move toward election day, the NRLN will continue to monitor the presidential campaigns on Social Security, Medicare and other issues important to retirees and speak out if necessary.
National Retiree Legislative Network
MEDICARE FINANCIAL CRISIS/ PRIVATIZATION
VIDEO #1 "Introduction" VIDEO #2 "What Caused the Medicare Financial Crisis?" VIDEO #3 "Bait and Switch"
NRLN Says Be Vigilant Against Scammers
•According to the IRS, scammers are trying to take advantage of Americans’ stimulus payments during the Coronavirus Pandemic. DON’T BELIEVE THE SCAMMERS.
•Be wary of phone calls, emails, text messages, websites and social media messages about stimulus payments that request money or personal information. DON’T BELIEVE THE SCAMMERS.
•Scam artists may use this information to commit tax fraud, identity theft or steal money from financial accounts. They may also try to entice unsuspecting victims to click on malicious hyperlinks, which can be used to remotely install malware to potentially harvest credentials, install key-loggers or lock down the system with ransomware.DON’T BELIEVE THE SCAMMERS.
•Social Security officials also warn beneficiaries against providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency or by mailing cash to maintain Social Security benefits or receive the Treasury's payments.
•Scammers are also trying to trick jobless Americans into forking over some of their unemployment benefits. They pose as a state unemployment official and ask for unemployment insurance overpayments to be paid back by credit card or gift card.
•Scammers are also using illegal robocalls to pitch things like fraudulent coronavirus treatments, vaccinations, home test kits and work-at-home schemes. DON’T BELIEVE THE SCAMMERS.
March 24, 2020
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you on behalf of the more than 2 million retirees and future retirees represented by the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN). A large number of NRLN members and other Americans must take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from their IRAs and/or 401(k)s in 2020. Their RMD would be based on the value of IRAs and 401(k)s as of December 31, 2019. Taking an RMD now would be a financial disaster and later in the year will most likely still be a tremendous loss for anyone due to the collapse in the stock market.
Therefore, the NRLN is requesting an RMD waiver in 2020 either through legislation you would endorse, an executive order, or directive to the Treasury Secretary. There is precedent for this type of action. On December 23, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 into law. Section 201 of the Act waived any RMDs for 2009 from retirement plans. Based on the law, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2009-9 to provide guidance to financial institutions on reporting RMDs.
You certainly understand what has happened in the stock market. What our members have witnessed is at the end of last year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 28,462.14, the S&P 500 closed at 3,221.29, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 8,945.99. On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 19,173.98; the S&P 500 closed at 2,304.92, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 6,879.52. The Wall Street week that ended March 20, 2020 was the market’s worst week since the financial crisis of 2008.
If you would like to know more about why the NRLN supports the RMD waiver for 2020, please ask a member of your staff to contact me or Alyson Parker, the NRLN’s Executive Director in Washington, DC at 813-545-6792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Kadereit, President