Fact Check By: Newswise Fact Check, Newswise

Truthfulness: Half True

Claim:

A Biden campaign TV ad falsely claims that a government analysis of President Donald Trump’s “planned cuts to Social Security” shows that “if Trump gets his way, Social Security benefits will run out in just three years from now.”

Claim Publisher and Date: Joe Biden, FactCheck.org on 2020-09-07

As reported by Factcheck.org:

A Biden campaign TV ad falsely claims that a government analysis of President Donald Trump’s “planned cuts to Social Security” shows that “if Trump gets his way, Social Security benefits will run out in just three years from now.”

The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary analyzed “hypothetical legislation” that would eliminate the payroll tax that funds Social Security — not a proposal from Trump. The president has said he won’t cut benefits.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and others who oppose Trump’s reelection have capitalized on confusing statements Trump made in August. He has said on multiple occasions that, if reelected, he would look at “ending” or “terminating the payroll tax.”

But White House and Trump campaign officials have said the president actually wants to forgive a four-month payroll tax holiday he authorized via executive action last month. Trump himself has said: “[W]hen I win the election, I’m going to completely and totally forgive all deferred payroll taxes without in any way, shape or form hurting Social Security. That money is going to come from the general fund.”

Biden, though, has repeatedly claimed that Trump has a “plan” that would “bankrupt,” “defund,” or “wipe out” the Social Security program.

In remarks during an AFL-CIO virtual event on Sept. 7, Biden said: “And Trump has a plan to gut Social Security. If his Social Security plan … actually became law, the Social Security actuary has said the entire Social Security system will be bankrupt by mid-2023.”

At the same time, the Biden campaign has been running an ad that says: “The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration just released an analysis of Trump’s planned cuts to Social Security. Under Trump’s plan, Social Security would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023. If Trump gets his way, Social Security benefits will run out in just three years from now.”

Advertising Analytics says the Biden campaign has spent over $1.3 million on the 30-second commercial, which has aired more than 5,500 times in swing states like Michigan and Arizona since Sept. 3.

The Biden campaign started running a second ad on Social Security in key electoral states on Sept. 8. It features the former vice president saying: “For our seniors, Social Security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made. The current president’s threatening to break that promise. He’s proposing to eliminate a tax that pays for almost half the Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue.” 

Biden said that in his acceptance speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. As we wrote then, it’s not clear what Trump would do in a second term.

But any permanent changes to Social Security would have to go through Congress, and the temporary payroll tax forgiveness — which Trump’s administration and campaign staff claim he really wants — would not “gut” or “wipe out” the program that pays retirement and disability benefits.

Due to the nuance of crafting legislation and entitlements policy, it is not entirely accurate to refer to a "plan" to affect the alleged changes. However, the President is on the public record musing about making major changes to Social Security, even if those public musings have not been shaped into an official plan of legislation, as of yet. Therefore we are rating this claim as "Half True."

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