Not again?!? Romney’s “TRUST Act” – the GOP’s Trojan Horse to cut seniors’ Social Security & Medicare benefits is BACK!

A lot of Democratic senators fell for this scam last time! Take nothing for granted. Tell them – “NO” on this GOP-swindle and “YES” for a real solution – “Social Security 2100 Act – A Sacred Trust.”

Sen. Feinstein joined over 20 other Democratic senators in voting for Romney’s TRUST Act last time it was up. Perhaps they did not appreciate then how it would fundamentally weaken Social Security and Medicare, allowing cuts to benefits without regard to how they would affect their constituents who depend on them. But…it’s a GOP bill. The rich are always protected and the poor and middle-class are left to pay the check. Seriously – THEY SHOULD HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT BY NOW!

What we need is H.R.5723/S.3071 “Social Security 2100 Act – A Sacred Trust.” This legislation adjusts the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy begin paying their fair share into the program. They also includes a 2 percent across the board increase in benefits and a more accurate inflation formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments.

Action: Tell your legislators to vote “NO” on Romney’s Trojan Horse TRUST Act (H.R.2572/S.1295) and “YES” on H.R.5723/S.3071 – Social Security 2100 Act – A Sacred Trust.”

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Rep./Sen. [___] to vote “NO” on Sen. Romney’s dangerous TRUST Act, Bill # [Rep. – H.R.2572/Sen – S.1295], which would allow slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits. Instead, I ask that [he/she/they] protect these trust funds and those who depend on them by demanding that the wealthy finally pay their fair share by voting “YES” on (Rep. – H.R.5723/Sen. – S.3071 “Social Security 2100 Act – A Sacred Trust.”

CONTACT INFO.

Get your friends and family in RED states to call theirs as well!

  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Senator Feinsteinemail, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my rep./ senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper Dive – Why are these bills being proposed?

UPDATE: Romney’s TRUST Act is Back (Again)

(ncpssm.org) The TRUST Act is back again. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) reintroduced his bill on April 15th, after it went nowhere in the 116th Congress.  The TRUST Act purports to protect federal trust funds, including Social Security and Medicare’s.  But it would actually open the door to cutting both programs. The reintroduced TRUST Act is cosponsored by Republican members of the House and Senate and a handful of Democrats.

We urge them to reconsider their position — and to oppose the TRUST Act. Democrats must reject Republican attempts to undermine our nation’s most successful social insurance programs — crucial legacies of the New Deal and Great Society. Today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees expect nothing less. – Former Senator Tom Harkin and NCPSSM president Max Ricthman, The Hill, 3/4/21″ 

The bill would establish ‘Rescue Committees’ in Congress to draft legislation affecting the Social Security and Medicare – and fast track it for floor votes without going through the normal deliberative process.  For example, members would not be able to offer amendments to legislation that comes out of the ‘Rescue Committees.’  “It leaves the skeleton of the legislative process in place, but nowhere along the line can you make changes or improvements,” explains Maria Freese, a Social Security and retirement expert at NCPSSM.

Given that fiscal hawks in Congress want to cut Americans’ earned benefits under the guise of protecting or “reforming” Social Security and Medicare, the TRUST Act is dangerous.  It would open the door to slash both programs. Today’s seniors rely on their earned benefits to stay healthy and stay out of poverty.  Research indicates that tomorrow’s retirees will rely on these programs even more.  The last thing American workers need is to have their future benefits threatened. If anything, they should be expanded.

While it’s true that the Social Security and Medicare Part A trust funds will become depleted in 2035 and 2026 respectively if Congress takes no action, there are commonsense solutions that do not involve cutting benefits.  But, too often, “entitlement reformers” use the canard that “no one in Washington has the courage” to address Social Security and Medicare’s financial challenges, which simply is not true.  Representative John Larson introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which would extend the life of the trust fund, partly by asking the wealthy to begin contributing their fair share of Social Security payroll taxes. Other members of Congress have offered their own solutions that do not ask future seniors to withstand benefit cuts.

“We agree that it’s important to address solvency,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. “We also think it’s equally important to address benefit adequacy, because of the struggle that the middle class and working class have these days in saving for retirement.” – Dan Adcock, NCPSSM Director of Government Relations and Policy

In fact, the TRUST Act does not require its “rescue committees” to consider the adequacy of current benefits — or the human impact of potential cuts. Retirees would be relegated to the status of figures on a balance sheet. This is not an acceptable outcome for our parents, grandparents, and friends who depend on their earned benefits.”

Retirees Should Say ‘No Thanks’ to Romney’s Social Security Plan

(The Hill) The last thing America’s retirees need is Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) hands on their future Social Security benefits. Yet that is precisely what may happen if a piece of draft legislation by the Utah senator isn’t relegated to the dust bin of history — and fast. Romney’s proposed TRUST act aims to establish “rescue committees” for federal trust funds, including Social Security. These committees would operate outside of regular order and their recommendations would be fast-tracked to the Senate floor.

“If you ever want to see a balanced budget, if you ever want to get out of debt, you have to deal with these trust funds,” Romney told CNBC. It’s a common conservative ploy — to conflate seniors’ earned benefits with the issue of debt — even though Social Security is self-funded and does not contribute a penny to federal red ink.

If history is a guide, retirees should not trust Romney with their Social Security benefits. During his 2012 presidential campaign, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryanadvocated raising the retirement age (which is a benefit cut), lower cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), and the creation of private Social Security accounts. The senator is clearly in the “entitlement reform” camp that purports to want to “save” Social Security by cutting it, implying that benefit reductions for seniors living on fixed incomes are somehow inevitable.

When Republicans were still in charge of the House, the House Social Security Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), introduced a bill that made plain what conservatives would do if they could. The GOP legislation sought to cut Social Security benefits by 33 percent. It would have raised the retirement age to 69, adopted a stingier formula for calculating COLAs (the Chained CPI), and slashed benefits for spouses and children. Fortunately, the bill went nowhere.

Having failed to enact “entitlement reform” through the normal legislative process, Romney and his conservative allies now seek to hide behind an appointed committee. In fact, Romney told a reporter that he “determined it would make more sense for (him) to try to devise a procedural proposal than to try to propose solutions for the funding issues (himself).” In other words, the TRUST Act is designed to give conservatives political cover to cut benefits.

There is no question that Congress must address the projected shortfall in the Social Security Trust fund in 2035 (after which the program still could pay 80 percent of benefits). The fallacy is that the only way to ensure solvency is through a combination of benefit cuts and revenue measures. But a major piece of legislation working its way through the House Ways and Means Committee would keep Social Security financially sound until the end of this century without benefit cuts.

Introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the Social Security 2100 Act adjusts the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy begin paying their fair share into the program, along with a modest 1.2 percent payroll tax increase phased in over 24 years — the equivalent, says Rep. Larson, of one coffee drink every 9 weeks for the average wage earner. The bill also includes a 2 percent across the board increase in benefits and a more accurate inflation formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Romney unveiled his bill at the same time the Social Security 2100 Act is garnering attention on Capitol Hill. The TRUST Act is an ill-advised alternative which addresses only one side of the equation — the solvency issue — without ensuring that future retirees will have enough income to keep their heads above water.

The average monthly Social Security retirement benefit of $1,461 — or roughly $17,500 per year — is already modest for seniors facing ever-rising living costs. The 2020 cost-of-living adjustment of 1.6 percent amounts to only $24 more per month for the average retiree.

Even with Social Security, some 8 percent of America’s seniors under 70 years of age live in poverty. With retirement savings dwindling and pensions disappearing, future beneficiaries will need every dollar they’ve earned in Social Security benefits. Rep. Larson takes reasonable steps to boost these benefits while ensuring the program’s financial viability. Romney’s proposal does not. For today and tomorrow’s retirees, the choice could not be clearer.

Max Richtman is president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a membership organization that promotes the financial security, health and well being of current and future generations of maturing Americans. He also chairs the board of the National Committee’s Political Action Committee, a PAC that endorses candidates for federal office. 

Original background post: Romney’s TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors’ benefits

An insidious piece of legislation affecting Social Security and Medicare may be working its way into the COVID-19 relief bill. We had hoped that Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) TRUST Act was moribund after it went nowhere in the last Congress. But it has come back to life as an amendment to the FY 2021 budget resolution that the Senate passed in February. Now, Romney may offer the TRUST Act as an amendment to the COVID relief bill — a dangerous idea that has no place in legislation intended to ease, not exacerbate, Americans’ financial pain.

Meanwhile, there is no need to cut a program that has been a financial lifeline for retirees for 85 years. One of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inspirations for establishing Social Security in 1935 was seeing American seniors literally living in poor houses. Today, the average Social Security beneficiary receives a modest $1,543 per month — or about $18,500 a year. Without Social Security, 38 percent of seniors in the wealthiest country in the world would fall into poverty. Nearly half of all beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all or most of their income.

Despite Social Security’s role in providing seniors with baseline financial security, the TRUST Act does not require its “rescue committees” to consider the adequacy of current benefits — or the human impact of potential cuts. Retirees would be relegated to the status of figures on a balance sheet. This is not an acceptable outcome for our parents, grandparents, and friends who depend on their monthly Social Security checks.

As an amendment to the COVID relief bill, the TRUST Act would be a Trojan Horse to circumvent legislative norms for changing Social Security. The Congressional Budget Act and the Byrd Rule specifically prohibit any modifications to Social Security through budget reconciliation — the vehicle Democrats are using for COVID legislation. But the TRUST Act could sneak its way into law on the coattails of COVID relief.

Why this back-door approach to cut Americans’ earned benefits?  Romney and other ‘fiscal hawks’ (the same ones who voted for the deficit-swelling Trump/GOP tax cuts) can see that Social Security and Medicare are politically popular. Polling consistently indicates overwhelming support for these programs (and opposition to benefit cuts) across party lines. In fact, recent surveys suggest that the public supports expanding Social Security and asking the wealthy to pay their fair share by adjusting the payroll wage cap. Both of these provisions are in President Biden’s plan and in Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act. Romney and his fellow ‘entitlement reformers’ would obviously prefer that any cuts to earned benefits be executed under the cover of ‘rescue committees’ and rushed to a floor vote.

Unfortunately, a number of Senate Democrats voted for the TRUST Act in February as part of this year’s budget resolution. We urge them to reconsider their position — and to oppose the TRUST Act as part of COVID relief legislation. Democrats must reject Republican attempts to undermine our nation’s most successful social insurance programs — crucial legacies of the New Deal and Great Society. Today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees expect nothing less...”

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