As seniors’ advocates, it is not our job to parse Joe Biden’s debate performance. It’s our job to tell Americans in straight talk who is telling the truth about Social Security and Medicare — and who will protect them as president. In last night’s debate, Donald Trump repeatedly spread disinformation about seniors’ earned benefits, while President Biden’s statements were consistent with the truth — and with his record in office of defending both programs.

Donald Trump proved during the debate that he cannot be trusted to protect seniors’ earned benefits by distorting the truth.  No one who is serious about protecting seniors’ earned benefits would undermine them in this way. Trump baselessly claimed that undocumented workers are collecting benefits — a myth that has no basis in reality. Undocumented workers are not eligible for Social Security benefits, period. Either Trump doesn’t understand how America’s greatest social insurance programs work — or he is purposely lying. 

Trump turned reality inside out on the issue of Medicare, as well, accusing the Biden administration of “destroying” the program. In the real world, President Biden strengthened the Medicare program through the Inflation Reduction Act. He literally empowered Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma for the first time in history, which is projected to save beneficiaries $7.4 billion per year in prescription costs — in addition to capping insulin costs at $35 per month and limiting seniors’ out of pocket drug costs to $2,000 annually. 

Trump tried to take credit for lowering prescription drug prices but never presented a comprehensive program while he was in office, and unlike President Biden, never enacted one. Throughout the debate, Trump repeatedly took credit for things he didn’t do — and blamed others for his actions that have hurt the American people. 

While President Trump has been rhetorically all over the map on Social Security (saying earlier this year that was “open” to “cutting entitlements” and then walking it back), President Biden tonight affirmed his commitment to strengthening the program’s finances by demanding that high earners (anyone with more than $400,000 in yearly wages) begin paying their fair share. 

Trump is the one who will “destroy” Social Security through is rhetoric and actions. He has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and as President his budgets included billions of dollars in cuts to both Social Security and Medicare. During the pandemic, he needlessly suspended the Social Security payroll tax and said he’d like to end it altogether, even though the FICA tax is the program’s chief funding source. Trump’s Republican allies in Congress have called for raising the retirement age, means testing, and reduced COLAs — proposals they and Trump would no doubt enact if the GOP prevails in November.

President Biden has consistently championed Social Security and Medicare since taking office.  In successive White House budget proposals, he has urged Congress to take action to strengthen both programs. He convinced Republicans to take Social Security and Medicare “off the table” in the 2023 debt ceiling negotiations. He called seniors’ earned benefits “a sacred trust” that must be protected and vowed that if anyone tries to cut either program, “I will stop them.”   

We have been watching these two candidates for 8 years. There is no question as to which one seniors can trust with their crucial earned benefits — paid for over a lifetime of work.  It’s not the candidate whose statements are erratic and false, and whose policies in office were spectacularly reckless.   Seniors can trust the candidate who considers Social Security and Medicare to be “sacred” and has promised to protect them from cuts.  That is why, on behalf of our members and supporters across the country, we endorsed Joe Biden for President. – Max Richtman, President & CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare



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Walter Gottlieb

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