Donald Trump signed an executive order on Saturday that would generate massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Trump signed the order after the self-described dealmaker was unable to reach a deal with congressional Democrats. In May, Democrats in the House passed the HEROES Act, which kept in place unemployment benefits that millions of Americans are using due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans have pushed for cutting the benefits.
The executive order is expected to face legal challenges since the power to pass and rescind matters relating to taxes are historically attributed to Congress.
Trump described his executive order as a “payroll tax cut,” but policy experts have made clear that the order would cut the safety net.
“Trump’s scheme would weaken the Social Security and Medicare trust funds by diverting the revenue from the employee portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and potentially the employer’s share of Medicare taxes, from the programs’ trust funds,” the Center for American Progress explained in a memo.
Republicans have for years sought to tamper with Social Security. Former President George W. Bush attempted to privatize Social Security after his 2004 reelection. The move was unpopular and faced unified Democratic opposition before its eventual defeat.
Social Security was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Both men were Democrats.
Trump order would also cut the current $600 benefit to millions of families who are struggling during the outbreak, which he downplayed in its early days. Despite over 157,000 Americans dying, Trump has continued to claim — without any scientific evidence — that the virus will disappear.