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Guest view: Steve Daines snubs Social Security at every turn

Guest view: Steve Daines snubs Social Security at every turn

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President Franklin Roosevelt once warned about politicians who would someday meddle with Social Security. His solution was to create FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) contributions to give Americans a sense of ownership over their benefits, saying that, “With those taxes in there, no damn politician can scrap my Social Security program!”

Donald Trump’s promise to “terminate” FICA contributions (which he calls “payroll taxes”) if he is re-elected is a full-on declaration of war against current and future Social Security beneficiaries. Sen. Steve Daines fully supports this attack on Montana’s 239,410 Social Security beneficiaries.

By saying he intends to “eliminate the (payroll) tax” — a notion seconded by his legal adviser — Trump made crystal clear that if re-elected, he will destroy Social Security. Terminating Social Security’s funding terminates Social Security.

Social Security is the foundation of every Montanan’s retirement security. At a time when pensions are vanishing and 401ks have proven inadequate, Trump’s plan to eliminate Social Security’s revenue stream would destroy the one source of retirement income that Montanans can count on. Moreover, Social Security is often the only disability insurance and life insurance that Montana working families have. If re-elected, Trump plans to destroy those benefits as well.

It’s an outrage, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that Steve Daines is totally on board with Donald Trump’s plan to terminate Social Security’s dedicated funding. In fact, Daines has demonstrated a deeply held commitment to undermining Social Security, even though it is a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of Montanans and their families.

Daines supports adding Social Security to the general budget process. This is a ploy to treat Social Security as just another program to slash, rather then the earned benefit that it is. Simply put: Social Security, as even Ronald Reagan understood, has nothing to do with the deficit.

Yet, Daines agrees with a plan by Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) to use the deficit as an excuse to let Congress interfere with Social Security, even though it already has a $2.9 trillion reserve. Congress should not be able to hold our earned benefits hostage as part of the budget process or allow Donald Trump to scuttle the dedicated funding which keeps Social Security strong.

It is time for us to heed FDR’s warning about “damn politicians” like Steve Daines. Time and time again, Daines just can’t help himself when it comes to sabotaging Social Security.

Even worse, Daines is utterly disconnected from the needs of Montana’s Social Security beneficiaries. As a Senate candidate in 2012, Daines complained about so-called “entitlements” being “too rich,” and used insider-Washington speak to agitate for Social Security cuts.

By advocating for changing Social Security’s benefits without increasing revenue, Daines’s full-throated support for Social Security cuts stands nakedly obvious. It’s completely transparent that Daines is begging to cut the Social Security benefits of Montanans.

For years, Daines has been exceedingly eager to cut Social Security. Of course he can’t wait to help Donald Trump “terminate” Social Security.

Tully Olson is the executive director of Big Sky 55+, an organization that seeks to mobilize and organize Montana seniors on local, state and federal policy.


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