Social Security was born during the double-digit unemployment years of the Great Depression. From the first, it made payments to those over 65 without jobs and to spouses and children of deceased workers. Disability insurance was added in 1956 and Medicare in 1965.
For me, it has meant that I didn’t have to choose between getting my father decent medical care and sending my daughters to college or to mortgage my home so my sister could get newly patented cancer treatments, and that I could retire without worrying if I would outlive my savings.
For some, however, it’s the thing they dread most: a government program that works. Many Republicans are working for the “privatization of Social Security” that would require workers to pay Wall Street traders to invest their retirement funds and would make future benefits subject to market fluctuations.
Now President Trump has signed a Tax Memorandum to stop deduction of social security taxes on wages paid from September 1 to the end of the year. If the Secretary of the Treasury can’t find substitute sources of funding, workers must pay the tax later.
The U.S. Postal Service, originally headed by Benjamin Franklin, is an even older example of a government program that works. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of communication in bonding states into a nation and in promoting internal trade.
Today, with dozens of other delivery services available, the USPS is the ‘public option’ that keeps prices down.
The government cut out federal subsidies to the USPS during the 1980s, thus forcing it to charge enough to cover all of its expenses. In 2006, Congress ordered the agency to make payments to fund retirement obligations in advance, something neither Social Security nor other Federal retirement programs do. Four times since the USPS has failed to fund annual payments toward future retirement obligations.
President Trump has proposed making USPS “a private postal operator,” delivering mail fewer days per week, and ending door-to-door delivery. He has publicly called for a price increase for package deliveries.
In the last week or so, however, the danger to the post office became more immediate.
Trump appointees now fill every seat on the USPS board of governors, and Trump’s new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, holds at least $30 million in stock of a competing delivery company.
Over 600 machines used for rapid sorting of mail are to be “dismantled.’ CNN cited postal workers as estimating that two workers using a machine can do the work of 30 workers without one.
A major cause of the stalemate in negotiating a third coronavirus relief bill is President Trump’s rejection–and Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi’s insistence–on $25 billion in financial help for the USPS.
And Thursday, in an interview on Fox Business Network, President Trump said he believes opposing that aid will stop mail-in voting. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
I’m guessing not all Republicans admire President Trump’s current battles to eliminate socialistic government programs.