COMMENTARY: Which Republican to Trust on Social Security? Not a Single One

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Then-Presidernt Trumps and Ambassador Nikki Haley
Donald Trump and Nikki Haley shaking hands

“On Social Security, just as he does on so many other topics, Donald Trump is projecting his own desires onto his opponents,” said one progressive defender of the program. “In this case, his accusations against Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis happen to be true, but they are equally true about Trump himself.”

by John Queally, managing editor of Common Dreams.

Whichever Republican emerges victorious in the party’s Iowa caucus on Monday and ultimately becomes the GOP nominee, defenders of Social Security want the voting public to know that not a single one of them can be trusted to defend what is considered the greatest anti-poverty program ever enacted in the United States.

While former president and GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump in recent weeks has attacked his top rivals for comments they’ve made about the program, progressive advocates warn he is no better.

Last week, Trump released a new ad against former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in New Hampshire that states: “Americans were promised a secure retirement. Nikki Haley’s plan ends that.” 

During a mid-week debate between Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—though Trump skipped the event—the two second-tier GOP hopefuls sparred over their plans for Social Security as each said the other could not be trusted on the issue. While DeSantis said a “promise made is a promise” kept, Haley pointed out the governor voted three times to increase the retirement age when was in Congress.

Meanwhile, Haley repeated her promise to push for an increase of the retirement age for people now in their twenties and thirties if elected. In a subsequent public warning, however, the advocacy group Social Security Works made clear that neither DeSantis nor Haley—or Trump for that matter—deserve the public’s trust.

Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, told Common Dreamsover the weekend that while Trump’s ads and recent statements correctly pinpoint why Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis should never be trusted to protect Social Security, the former president has an expansive and consistent track record of attacking the program, including during his first term in office.

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“On Social Security, just as he does on so many other topics,” said Altman, “Donald Trump is projecting his own desires onto his opponents. In this case, his accusations against Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis happen to be true, but they are equally true about Trump himself.” 

“Trump proposed serious cuts to Social Security as part of his budget every single year he was in office,” she continued. “He surrounded himself with men like Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pence, who have long histories of trying to cut and privatize Social Security.”

As Common Dreams reported during his presidency, including as he eyed reelection in 2020, Trump made repeated comments hostile to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In August of 2020, Trump bragged on national television that he would permanently halt the payroll tax that funds Social Security, comments that were seen by defenders of the program as a vow “to destroy” the program.

“Trump himself has supported privatization and raising the retirement age, along with slandering the program as a ‘Ponzi scheme,'” warned Altman. “He can’t be trusted to protect our earned benefits any more than DeSantis or Haley.”

Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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