A national advocacy group for seniors officially endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on Thursday, warning that older Americans “cannot afford” a second term for President Donald Trump.
This is the first time that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), which was founded by the late son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has ever endorsed a candidate for president.
“During the past four years, we’ve seen this president pay lip service to seniors’ needs while actively undermining their best interests, the latest example being his reckless pledge to terminate the payroll taxes that fund Social Security,” Max Richtman, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
He said that Social Security is under attack.
“Never in our organization’s history have we seen such a consistent level of threats to the health and retirement security of America’s seniors,” Richtman said. “There is no doubt that the most effective way to protect the future for older Americans is to elect Joe Biden as president.”
Trump inadvertently put Social Security in the election spotlight after he signed an executive order in August calling for a “payroll tax holiday” for the millions of employees who pay into the system. Today, more than 65 million Americans receive benefits through Social Security.
He followed the executive order with an announcement that if he won a second term, he intended to eliminate the payroll tax. He told reporters during a press conference that “we will be, on the assumption I win, we are going to be terminating the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year.”
Gutting the tax completely would bankrupt the agency fast. In a recent report to Congress, the chief actuary for the Social Security Administration said the trust which supports the benefits would be depleted by the middle of 2023. Funds for disability payments would run out even sooner, in the middle of 2021.
For senior voters—who are the largest and most reliable voting bloc—the future of the program is a big concern heading into Election Day. A survey from Data for Progress conducted in August found protecting Social Security ranked among the top three election issues for 68 percent of adults over the age of 45.
In his 2020 platform, Biden has pledged to increase Social Security benefits for low-income families and individuals. The additional benefits would be paid for by raising taxes on those earning more than $400,000. His plan would also boost the program for older Americans, as those between the ages of 78 and 82 would receive gradual increases in their annual benefits.
In their endorsement letter to Biden, the NCPSSM wrote that his election “is essential to the protection and improvement of the earned benefits of retirees, people with disabilities and survivors.”
Newsweek reached out to both campaigns for comment on the endorsement but did not receive a response before publication.