Joe Biden

Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on the 85th Anniversary of Social Security

August 14, 2020

Eighty-five years ago today, as our nation sought to heal its pain and revive its promise in the midst of a Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. In the years since, Social Security has brought greater dignity, peace of mind, and freedom to America's seniors and families — and, in doing so, it has reconsecrated our nation as a land of greater equity, compassion, and strength.

Today, America is facing a new moment of extraordinary suffering and economic calamity. It is a moment that impels us, perhaps more than any in recent memory, to strengthen our commitment to Social Security and the promise for which it stands — to protect the most vulnerable and help every American family guard against uncertainty and loss.

Instead of rising to the moment, President Trump is threatening to sever that sacred promise. Last week, from his golf course in New Jersey, he issued an executive order to "terminate" the funding Social Security relies on. Since then, he's only doubled down — vowing in no uncertain terms to end Social Security as we know it if given another term in office.

This is not a matter of campaign hyperbole or difference of opinion. It is a stone-cold fact: Trump announced his intention to permanently cut the funding source for Social Security — the payroll taxes that American workers pay into, trusting that Social Security will be there for them when they retire.

When asked how he planned to make up for that funding, Trump said: "tremendous growth." That's the same magical fix he promised would pay for his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans back in 2017. That "tremendous growth" never materialized, and instead his mismanagement spiraled our nation into the worst economic and jobs crisis in a century. Like his 'tremendous health care plan,' his 'tremendous infrastructure plan,' and every other promise he has thoughtlessly made and broken, this too will turn out to be worthless — and millions of seniors will be left to face the challenges of aging without the support, peace of mind, and dignity they had counted on and earned.

To slash Social Security in the midst of a deadly pandemic — a crisis made exponentially worse by his own negligence — is an unconscionable betrayal of American seniors, who paid into the Social Security system throughout their lives expecting it would be there for them in their golden years. It isn't a surprise that Donald Trump is promising to gut Social Security at a time when families need help the most — after all, he's also in court right now trying to slash Medicare benefits for some of the most vulnerable Americans. The only surprise is how open and brazen he is about his intentions to destroy a cherished program that is ingrained in the moral bedrock of life in America.

The fate of Social Security is on the ballot in November. As President, I will never, ever defund Social Security. To the contrary — I will strengthen it. Anything less is a failure of a president's first and most consequential duty: the duty to care for the American people.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on the 85th Anniversary of Social Security Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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