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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Bad Politics: Attacking the Post Office and Social Security

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.  

Rachael Bade, Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim at WP:
Democrats say that President Trump’s assault on the U.S. Postal Service has handed them a new political message in the 2020 election, with a chance to make inroads with constituencies who have long favored Republicans.

High-profile Democrats from former president Barack Obama to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sounded the alarm Friday about the president’s moves to denigrate government-run mail services, decrying it as an assault on democracy and the needs of citizens who rely on its daily deliveries.

Those most affected by reports of slowdowns in delivery services include veterans, senior citizens and rural residents who have long voted Republican, arming Democratic challengers and incumbents with a salient campaign issue. Democrats are already blanketing the airwaves, latching on to the opportunity to highlight support for an institution that has a 91 percent approval rating, according to an April survey by the Pew Research Center.
Lydia Saad at Gallup:
Americans are maintaining a mostly positive view of the job each of eight different high-profile federal departments and agencies is doing, out of 13 such entities measured in a new Gallup poll. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) remains the top-rated agency, with 74% saying it is doing an "excellent" or "good" job. This conforms with its No. 1 status in all prior years Gallup measured it, including 2014, 2017 and 2018.
Aamer Madhani, Josh Boak And Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at AP:
In comments Wednesday to reporters, Trump said at least four times that he would end the payroll tax.
The president added that the tax would be eliminated after the “beginning of the New Year,” while the deferral only applies to the closing months of 2020. Trump said his planned payroll tax reduction would be a “number that’s bigger than any of the numbers we talked about.” A typical family would get back $5,000 or more, Trump said, an average economists said would not be achieved.
When pressed Wednesday about how the U.S. government would then pay for Social Security after the payroll tax is “permanently” rescinded, the president did not revise his previous comments. Instead, he insisted that economic growth would surge to cover the mammoth expense that would exceed $1 trillion.
...
But former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said Trump’s comments on should be a red flag about how the president would approach benefit programs in a second term.

“When Donald Trump continually says that he wants to take action to defund Social Security...we should take him literally and seriously,” said Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo. 
CNBC Interview at Davos, January 22, 2020:
JOE KERNEN: Entitlements ever be on your plate?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I-- it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a--

JOE KERNEN: If you’re willing--

PRESIDENT TRUMP: --big percentage.

JOE KERNEN: --to do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare--

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re going-- we’re going look
Frank Newport at Gallup:
As my colleague Megan Brenan has recently reviewed, Gallup research shows that older Americans are extraordinarily dependent on Social Security. Some 57% of retirees indicated in our April survey this year that Social Security is a "major" source of income in their retirement, eclipsing by far the second and third sources -- retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs, and work-sponsored pension plans.
...

Pew Research Center, for example, recently reported that "74 percent of Americans say Social Security benefits should not be reduced in any way," and previous Pew research found that only 6% favored cutting government spending on Social Security. A Marist/NPR/PBS poll last year found that six in 10 Americans would prefer to reverse the 2017 tax bill rather than cut entitlement programs like Social Security if necessary to reduce the deficit. Gallup polling historically has found that Americans would rather raise Social Security taxes than reduce benefits. A 2014 survey conducted for the National Academy of Social Insurance found "77% of respondents … agree it is critical to preserve Social Security benefits for future generations, even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans."