Trump is losing support from seniors after failed coronavirus response, proposed cuts to Medicare & Social Security

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Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

Today, President Trump will visit The Villages in Florida for a rally in a closing argument pitch to seniors for reelection. Polling over the last several months has shown seniors may be abandoning Trump. Why?

The coronavirus pandemic is top of mind to voters of all ages, yet seniors have borne the brunt of it. Even as he visits, cases in Florida have spiked at alarming rates. And while Trump has downplayed the pandemic since it began, he has also sought to minimize the impact it’s had on seniors. Last month, he said at a rally in Ohio after lauding the strong immune systems of young people, “it affects virtually nobody.” Earlier in September, Trump bragged, “We have achieved some of the great numbers, the case fatality rates. We have the lowest of any major country in the world. People don’t know that because the fake news doesn’t want to write about it…”

In fact 163,968 seniors have died from COVID-19. And a study over the summer found that 1 in 5 nursing homes faced critical PPE and staffing shortages, extending well into the summer, after the initial peak in the spring.

Seniors may be abandoning Trump because Trump has abandoned seniors. He proposed a payroll tax cut if re-elected that would bankrupt Social Security. All of his budgets have proposed cutting Social Security. He has also proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump’s last-ditch attempt to curry favor with seniors by way of a $200 prescription drug discount card sent out by the federal government — Trump called it “another historic provision to benefit our great seniors” — not only appears to be illegal, but also an empty promise that will not come to pass.

Trump: ‘It affects virtually nobody.’ “We now know the disease, we didn’t know it. Now we know it. It affects elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it. You know, in some states thousands of people, nobody young, below the age of 18, like nobody. They have a strong immune system. Who knows? They look at you, take your hat off to the young because they have a hell of an immune system, but it affects virtually nobody. It’s a — it’s an amazing thing. By the way, open your schools, everybody open your school.” [Ohio Trump rally video timestamp, 9/21/20]

Trump bragged about America’s ‘case fatality rate.’ “We have achieved some of the great numbers, the case fatality rates. We have the lowest of any major country in the world. People don’t know that because the fake news doesn’t want to write about it…” [NC speech, 9/8/20]

In fact, America has by far the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world. And 118 countries have a better case fatality rate than the United States.

And yet, Trump told Woodward in March:

Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people. Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old — older. Young people, too. Plenty of young people.”

8 out of 10 people who have died from COVID-19 have been seniors [CDC].

163,968 seniors have died from COVID-19, per the CDC’s weekly index.

  • 65–74 years old: 45,015
  • 75–84 years old: 55,089
  • 85 years and up: 63,864

Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare

Trump promised many times to protect Social Security and Medicare. The reality is that he’s tried to cut both programs in different ways, throughout his presidency.

Trump’s attempt to cut the payroll tax threatens Social Security. “President Donald Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut is a threat to Social Security no matter how he casts it. During a news conference Wednesday, he insisted he could eliminate the tax if he were reelected, and do it without undercutting retirement benefits or greatly adding to the deficit. He said economic growth would offset the revenue losses. That claim has little basis in reality. He also pointed to a manufacturing boom during the coronavirus pandemic but there isn’t one.” [AP, 8/13/20]

Trump said at least eight times this year that he would permanently eliminate dedicated funding to Social Security.

August 12th, Trump said he would be permanently “terminating” the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year, saying:

  • TRUMP: “On the assumption I win, we are going to be terminating the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year.”

August 10th, Trump doubled down on his plan to make the payroll tax cut permanent if he’s reelected saying:

  • TRUMP: “After the election, on the assumption that it would be victorious for an administration that’s done a great job, we will be ending that tax. We will be terminating that tax.”

August 8th, Trump vowed three times to make the payroll tax cut permanent if he won reelection.

  • TRUMP: “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So I’m going to make them all permanent.”
  • TRUMP: “But if I win, I may extend and terminate. In other words, I’ll extend it beyond the end of the year and terminate the tax.”
  • TRUMP: “And this is deferral payroll tax obligations. So this is your payroll tax obligations, which we’re going to end up terminating eventually, right?”

In April, Trump said twice that he wanted to permanently cut the payroll tax.

  • TRUMP: “I would love to see a payroll tax cut. There are many people that would like to see it as a permanent tax cut — payroll tax cut.”
  • TRUMP: “I mean, there are a lot of people — I’m one of them — that would have liked to have seen the payroll tax cut as a permanent cut.”

In March, Trump was privately encouraging Republican lawmakers to permanently eliminate the payroll tax cut.

  • Wall Street Journal: “Following the meeting, Mr. Trump told reporters he had discussed stimulus measures with Republicans, but offered few details. Mr. Trump wants to suspend the payroll tax through Dec. 31, an administration official said, though he has also said privately he wants the tax to be permanently eliminated.”

Trump said twice this year that cuts to entitlements, Social Security and Medicare being two of the largest, were on the table.

  • March 6th, Trump said at a Fox News town hall in Scranton responding to a question about cutting entitlements to deal with the deficit, “Oh, we’ll be cutting, but we’re also going to have growth like you’ve never had before. We’ve never had growth like we’re experiencing.”
  • January 22nd, Trump said during a CNBC interview responding to a question about cuts to entitlements like Social Security, “We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth… And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know that’s actually the easiest of all things…”

Trump cut Social Security in ALL four of his budget proposals.

  • His most recent budget proposal for FY21 released in February called for a $24 billion cut over a decade.
  • The FY20 budget proposed a $26 billion cut to Social Security programs over ten years.
  • The FY19 budget proposed a $72 billion cut to Social Security programs over ten years.
  • The FY 18 budget proposed a $70 billion cut to Social Security over ten years.

Trump’s FY 2020 budget proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. “Critics of President Donald Trump’s new budget are accusing him of breaking a key campaign promise ahead of his 2020 re-election bid. His fiscal 2020 proposal unveiled Monday calls for reductions in funding for Medicare and Medicaid relative to current law. Over a decade, the plan would shave an estimated $800 billion or more off Medicare, which covers older Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and various reports. It would also cut spending on Medicaid, the federal-state program that insures low-income Americans, by more than $200 billion while setting up block grants to states. Congress ultimately decides what money to spend, and Trump’s proposal is not likely to get through Capitol Hill. Still, a budget represents a president’s priorities even if it may not ultimately impact Americans’ lives.” [CNBC, 3/12/19]

Trump attacks USPS funding, which affects seniors ordering prescriptions. “‘Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,’ he said in an interview with Fox Business Network, adding that if it didn’t get the money, ‘that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.’ Trump walked these comments back at an evening press briefing, saying, ‘If the bill isn’t going to get done, it means the post office isn’t going to get funded.’” [Business Insider, 8/14/20]

Trump losing seniors

Polls show Trump losing to Biden nationally and in battleground states. “A spate of new polls shows Donald Trump is losing ground with voters ages 65 and up, a slide that threatens to doom his reelection bid and make him the first person in nearly 30 years to be tossed out by voters after just one term. On Tuesday, CNN released a poll showing Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading Trump by 16 points, a massive lead buoyed by voters over the age of 65. Voters in that age group back Biden over Trump by a whopping 60% to 39% margin in CNN’s poll. That’s a massive shift from 2016, when voters 65 and older backed Trump by 7 points, according to exit polls. CNN’s poll shows Biden’s largest lead to date. However, other surveys have Biden leading big, with seniors over 65 — which data shows turn out at the highest rate of any age group — also choosing Biden over Trump. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday found Biden leading with seniors by 27 points. A Morning Consult national survey released on Monday found Biden leading by 9 points, with voters over 65 picking Biden by 8 points.” [The American Independent, 10/6/20]

‘Trump’s coronavirus remarks weigh on minds of senior voters.’ “Florida, where 34 percent of the population is over the age of 55, is a potential swing state for Trump’s re-election campaign. Democratic challenger Joe Biden has made some inroads among older voters here, according to recent polls, but the coronavirus could affect the race in profound ways. Trump’s recent remarks made Liz Cillo, a 72-year-old retiree from St. Petersburg, laugh bitterly. “We’re dispensable. We’re old. I feel as though he’s never showed any empathy or compassion toward us.”” [AP, 9/25/20]

‘‘He just lies’: Florida’s senior voters suddenly are in play’ “Florida seniors, long an unflinching bloc of reliable GOP votes, are suddenly in play as President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus has his reelection campaign on the defensive. The pandemic and anxiety about possible cuts to entitlement programs have eroded the GOP’s once-solid advantage with the battleground state’s retirees, recent polls show, a demographic Republicans have won by double digits in recent presidential races.” [Politico Florida, 9/28/20]

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