Augusta Free Press: Spanberger: Trump’s executive order deferring employee payroll taxes ‘unworkable’
Washington, September 12, 2020
AUGUSTA FREE PRESS
A group of House members led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) is raising issue with the Trump administration’s recent move to defer employee payroll taxes, citing the threat that the move would put on the Social Security program.
In a letter to the president, Spanberger urged cooperation with Congress to pass a new relief package that directly addresses the unemployment crisis without siphoning away the lifeblood and undermining the integrity of the Social Security program.
“Social Security isn’t just a vital social safety net – it represents the fidelity of the United States government to the promises we’ve made to workers who have given a lifetime to building up their communities and driving our economy. The president’s executive order allowing the deferral of payroll taxes jeopardizes our ability to make vital payments to millions of Virginia seniors and disabled individuals and could leave American workers on the hook for thousands of dollars in unexpected taxes next year,” said Spanberger.
The Social Security program celebrated its 85th anniversary earlier this year. For nearly a century, Social Security has formed the foundation of a dignified retirement for millions of Americans. It also often serves as the sole source of disability insurance and life insurance for working families.
The program has low administration costs and participation is near-universal. In 2019, about 178 million Americans paid into Social Security and about 64 million – or 97 percent of the senior population – received benefits.
“The president’s executive order is unworkable,” Spanberger said. “We must arrive at a solution that addresses the current financial hardships facing many Americans – but we must do so in cooperation with Congress and with the input of elected officials from both sides of the aisle, and we must do so in a way that does not jeopardize the long term financial health of the Social Security program. This shotgun executive order is not a realistic solution for people who are out of work right now, and furthermore, it threatens the hard-earned benefits of seniors who have worked and paid into this system for decades.”
“AFGE members from across the federal government have been reaching out to us to express their frustration and confusion over this move,” said Everett Kelley, president of American Federation of Government Employees. “They don’t understand why they are being saddled with a huge tax bill next year, they are worried about penalties and fees, they are concerned about how falling behind could impact their clearance and their livelihood, and they want an opportunity to opt out. These are many of the same concerns that have stopped most private sector businesses from enacting this policy. We thank Representative Spanberger for continuing to advocate on behalf of our members and hope the White House takes immediate action to address these concerns.”
“Social Security Works applauds every signatory of this letter for speaking out against Donald Trump’s dangerous unilateral action to defund Social Security,” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works. “Our Social Security system is too important to the American people to be addressed behind closed doors or through an unprecedented executive power grab. It must be protected and expanded in Congress, through regular order.”