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OPINION

Mitrano: Trump and Reed undermine Social Security

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

Penn Yan

Noting that the 85th anniversary of the launch of Social Security “is not an entirely happy occasion,” Democratic congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano (NY-23rd) took aim at President Donald Trump for threatening to defund the system—and her opponent, incumbent Republican Tom Reed, for not defending it.

A week earlier, Trump vowed to “terminate” Social Security’s dedicated revenue by eliminating the payroll tax.

“This would essentially send the Social Security system to the poorhouse just when we need it most,” said Mitrano. “Four in ten senior citizens rely solely on Social Security for their income, and that number will only rise over the next decade.”

The coronavirus pandemic has created a new nightmare for those who turn 60 this year. Unless Congress acts, they will receive 5.9 percent less in Social Security benefits when they retire than people born in 1959. “That’s not what they were counting on,” said Mitrano. “And remember: it is their money, that they paid into the system over a lifetime!”

“Social Security stabilized this country during the Great Depression, and has kept four generations of elderly Americans out of dire poverty,” she added. “Instead of undermining this program, we should celebrate it.”

Reed has long positioned himself as a defender of Social Security. In 2019, he told a House of Representatives subcommittee about how his widowed mother, who had eleven other children, relied on Social Security to supplement her income. Early in his House career, when the system was on the verge of bankruptcy, Reed said, “I went to Washington, D.C., to do something, to solve problems,” and promised he would “prevent the catastrophe.” 

“What many voters didn’t realize was that Tom Reed is the catastrophe,” said Mitrano. “He has repeatedly failed to strengthen and expand the program so Americans receive the benefits they have paid for and deserve. Yet he authored and advocated for the 2017 ‘tax reform’ act that directed 83% of the financial benefits to the 1 percent. It led to a trillion-dollar deficit that will negatively affect Social Security and our economy for generations.

“The former recipient of Social Security is now a politician who stands for the country’s richest people, many of whom have spent years pressing to privatize the program,” she said. “He praised Trump’s executive action deferring the 6.2 percent payroll tax that funds Social Security. It will have little effect on those who need the stimulus the most, and who is going to pay for that shortage? Tom Reed says he won’t raise taxes or cut benefits. But he rarely tells the truth, and it is unfair that good people have to pay for his lies.”