CLAIM: “Donald Trump said that if he’s re-elected, he’ll defund Social Security.”
VERDICT: FALSE. Trump has never made any such statement.
On Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden claimed that Trump “said” he would defund Social Security.
Donald Trump said that if he’s re-elected, he’ll defund Social Security.
We can't let that happen.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 10, 2020
Trump never said that. What he did say is that he wanted to make payroll tax cuts permanent if he was re-elected.
Payroll taxes, deducted from employees and employers, are the chief mechanism through which Social Security is funded. They are also controversial, since they act as a tax on work and hiring, and hit the poorest Americans.
Economists have debated alternative ways to raise the same revenue. Some on the left have even proposed taxing carbon emissions instead, which would have the effect of rewarding work while also encouraging efficient energy use and helping the environment.
In the past, Democrats — including Biden — have supported temporarily suspending the payroll tax. The Obama-Biden administration adopted that policy during the last recession, and President Barack Obama touted it on the campaign trail.
Over the weekend, President Trump told reporters specifically that his own temporary payroll tax cut, which will last until the end of the year, would not cost Social Security anything because missing funds would be reimbursed by the Treasury.
"This will have no impact on Social Security," Pres Trump just told reporters about his deferment of payroll taxes for eligible workers. Before boarding Air Force One to return to DC, he said funds will come out of the Treasury's General Fund to make up loss to Social Security. pic.twitter.com/vcP7S4lBo9
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 9, 2020
It would be one thing to argue that Trump could not make the payroll tax cut permanent without hurting Social Security if no other revenue source were found. It is quite another to make the claim that Trump “said” he would defund the program.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.