The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare announced Thursday that it is endorsing Joe Biden for president. This endorsement breaks a 38-year tradition of remaining neutral in presidential races, while focusing on Congressional elections. But the endorsement was necessary, says National Committee president and CEO Max Richtman, in light of President Trump’s promise to “terminate” the payroll taxes that fund Social Security, and other attacks on seniors’ earned benefits during the past 3 and a half years. “Americans deserve a President who will protect and strengthen the federal government’s commitment to older Americans, and that is Joe Biden,” says Richtman.
Watch Max Richtman’s video endorsing Joe Biden here.
The National Committee, an organization with roots in President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, was founded by FDR’s son, Congressman James Roosevelt, Sr., in 1982 to protect Social Security and Medicare. We spoke to his son (and FDR’s grandson), James Roosevelt, Jr., vice-chair of the National Committee’s advisory board, about this historic endorsement and the reasons behind it.
Why should the National Committee break with precedent now and endorse Joe Biden for president?
JAMES ROOSEVELT: “Social Security is under unprecedented assault. No presidential candidate or incumbent has ever proposed cutting off Social Security’s payroll-based funding before. Joe Biden supports expanding and strengthening Social Security. Donald Trump talked about cutting off its financial lifeline. I am 100% behind the National Committee’s decision to endorse Joe Biden, the candidate who can be trusted to protect seniors’ earned benefits from any attempts to undermine or privatize them. This is an unusual situation and requires unprecedented action. Joe Biden has earned this endorsement and Donald Trump has forfeited it.”
Do Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand the current needs of American seniors?
JAMES ROOSEVELT: “Joe Biden has a record of over four decades of being a strong supporter of Social Security and Medicare. It’s clear that he understands their importance. Kamala Harris has joined in that support in her time in the Senate. Joe Biden was a strong voice in the Senate for the needs of seniors and it’s clear that the proposals that Biden and Harris are offering demonstrate a clear understanding of American seniors’ needs.”
Do you think that seniors’ earned benefits are in danger if President Trump is re-elected?
“I am convinced that Social Security and Medicare and overall health coverage is in danger if Donald trump stays in power. We are facing with Donald Trump something that FDR couldn’t have imagined, namely, somebody who has no regard for the well-being of the American people. When FDR said ‘no damn politician’ would dare scrap Social Security, he still thought every politician would be concerned for the welfare of the American people. He never contemplated a Donald Trump.”
Is the payroll tax deferral the only reason we’re endorsing, or is it just the straw that broke the camel’s back?
JAMES ROOSEVELT: “Throughout 3.5 years in office, President Trump has taken administrative action to reduce the effectiveness of the Social Security Administration. The Trump administration has cut SSA personnel, closed offices, and appointed a commissioner who is committed to the privatization of seniors’ retirement funding. Joe Biden has a strong record of supporting seniors’ earned benefits and expanding Social Security.”
What about Medicare and Medicaid?
JAMES ROOSEVELT: “Joe Biden is a strong supporter of expanding Medicare coverage and Medicaid expansion being available in all states. Once again, Donald Trump has sought to undercut these programs. Most dramatically, Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate all Medicaid expansion by throwing out the Affordable Care Act. Across the board, Donald Trump has imperiled Medicare coverage. Joe Biden is supportive of Medicare and Medicaid, not just continuing but improving these programs.”
Can Joe Biden and Kamala Harris usher-in a ‘New’ New Deal if elected, in the same spirit as your grandfather’s?
JAMES ROOSEVELT: “There’s no question that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are committed to a very progressive, New Deal-like approach for the 21stcentury. It’s needed for overall equity, including racial equity, but it’s particularly needed to meet the economic challenges that this country has faced in recent decades. The COVID-19 recession requires bold government action. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand that. President Trump downplays COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected seniors. It’s been devastating for seniors from a health point of view and often from a financial point of view as families lose the ability to support their older relatives.”
Read the press release about our endorsement of Joe Biden here.