It’s time to set the record straight on Donald Trump and Social Security. The leading Republican candidate has yet to come out with a real plan, and the clock is ticking.
Recently on ABC’s “This Week”, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tried to defend Trump and direct attention elsewhere: “No one else has a plan on Social Security,” Christie claimed. “So why aren't we testing all these other candidates, as well?...”
With all due respect, Christie’s remarks were misleading. Since last November, Take A Stand has repeatedly called on every presidential candidate to lay out a plan to update Social Security for future generations. Due in large part to our hardworking volunteers in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina who pressed the issue at nearly every campaign event, all candidates have shared their plans, except one: Donald Trump.
I believe Governor Christie deserves applause for laying out one of the most detailed Social Security plans during his own race for the White House, and for having the courage to talk to voters about it when many of his rivals kept silent. But his recent comments about Donald Trump are just plain wrong.
Not long ago, a reporter in South Carolina asked me why Trump wasn’t included on our chart that tracks candidate positions on Social Security. I pointed him to the asterisk that denotes candidates who haven’t laid out a plan. At that time, Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina appeared next to Trump. Now he’s alone, the last major candidate without a plan.
But don’t just take AARP’s word for it. According to Washington Examiner columnist Jason Alexander: “Most of the candidates have [Social Security] reform plans, ranging from expanding taxes that fund the program to gradually raising the retirement age. What would Trump do? We have no idea.”
Don’t get me wrong, Donald Trump has consistently recognized the tremendous value of Social Security to seniors and future generations, saying on numerous occasions: “We’re going to save Social Security. We are not going to cut your Social Security.”
But he has only promised to target “waste, fraud and abuse.” Of course we want to eliminate those things. But voters deserve a real plan.
Social Security helps 60 million people pay their bills, including families with children. It keeps millions in the middle class – and one out of three retirees above the poverty line. Today, 165 million U.S. workers contribute to Social Security in every paycheck. These future retirees could lose up to $10,000 per year if our leaders fail to act.
That’s why it is so important for every presidential candidate to lay out their plan. It’s why the news media should hold candidates accountable for explaining what their different plans would really mean.
In tonight’s Republican presidential debate hosted by CNN, I hope Donald Trump will show he doesn’t need Chris Christie’s protection or rely on clichés about waste, fraud and abuse. It’s time for him to lay out a real plan to update Social Security for the 21st Century. Voters are waiting.
John Hishta is the AARP senior vice president of campaigns. Follow him on Twitter @jhishta.
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