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Trump’s take

Donald Trump has talked a lot about entitlements, but his views have "zigzagged over the years," according to an NBC analysis.

While campaigning in 2016 he vowed not to touch Social Security, but in his fiscal 2021 budget he proposed slashing two disability programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) — the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Congress blocked those proposals.

In his current run, the former president has been speaking quite a bit about Social Security but no clear plan to make it solvent has emerged.

In the primaries, he ran an attack ad on his GOP challenger, Nikki Haley, focusing on her plan to raise the Social Security retirement age as a way to reduce expenses.

He recently told CNBC that there’s “a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting.” He didn’t give any specifics, but a Trump campaign spokesman told CNBC he was referring only to “cutting waste and fraud.”

Soon after, Trump told Breitbart News that he would never cut Social Security or Medicare.

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Biden’s view

Throughout his term, Biden has not touched Social Security and the official White House website says he "opposes any proposal to cut benefits, as well as proposals to privatize Social Security." However, as a senator he did vote to tax and freeze Social Security benefits, according to The Intercept.

The president wants to extend the program's solvency by getting high earners to pay Social Security taxes on all of their earnings.

In 2024, any earnings above $168,600 are not taxed. This means someone with an annual income of $1 million stopped contributing to the program on March 2 this year, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Last year, the American Academy of Actuaries said that removing the cap this way would "avoid impacting low-income workers, but it could be a large tax increase on high income workers (and their employers)" and it would cover 78% of the 2034 shortfall.

Biden's press release also mentions he supports "efforts to improve Social Security benefits" and "investments in Social Security Administration (SSA) services."

His proposed $7.3 trillion budget for fiscal year 2025 increases SSA’s funding by 9% to improve customer service at SSA’s field offices, State disability determination services, and teleservice centers for retirees, and for individuals with disabilities, and their families.

Comparing the two

It’s tough to say which candidate has a better plan to solve Social Security's solvency problem. Without a solid plan from Trump, you can’t compare him to Biden.

Right now, there’s not enough information on this to make a real decision. But keep your eye out, as this will be a hot topic for the election.

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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex

Reporter

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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