Trump vs. Biden: Social Security – Is Oil the Answer

William Potter

Despite lackluster public enthusiasm for a rematch of the 2020 presidential election, the United States seems to be gearing up for a repeat of Donald Trump versus Joe Biden. Social Security ranks as a critical issue for political candidates, especially since a Pew Research Center survey 2022 revealed that 57% of voters identified “securing Social Security” as a top concern.

Social Security beneficiaries are among the age groups most likely to vote, and polls suggest that Americans would rather see Social Security taxes increased than benefits cut.

The delay in addressing the solvency crisis exacerbates the difficulty of finding a solution, causing frustration among those who have long advocated for action. The upcoming November election underscores the urgency of the situation; with each passing year of inaction, solving the Social Security crisis becomes increasingly challenging.

The election results are set to play a pivotal role in determining the future course of Social Security, which will have far-reaching implications for millions of Americans who rely on it for their retirement benefits. With so much at stake, voters must understand the gravity of this issue and make informed decisions at the polls.

Donald Trump has been vocal about his intentions to maintain Social Security without alterations, criticizing his main primary opponent, Nikki Haley, for her openness to consider raising the retirement age for the current younger workforce.

His campaign platform reiterates his commitment to “safeguard” Social Security, with firm promises to avoid any reductions in benefits or programmatic changes under his potential second term.

However, Haley’s exit from the race on March 6 does not mitigate the broader issue that a stance of non-action could ultimately prove detrimental to the program over the longer term. This concern is rooted in the Social Security Administration projections, which indicate that the trust funds supporting the program are expected to be depleted by 2034.

At that juncture, only payroll taxes will remain to fund the benefits, capable of covering roughly 80% of the initially promised payouts. Several solutions have been suggested, such as increasing the retirement age and imposing payroll taxes to account for the deficit.

In contrast to other politicians, Trump has proposed an alternative approach to addressing Social Security’s impending funding gap without resorting to increases in payroll taxes. He suggests boosting American oil production as a means of generating additional revenue.

According to Trump, “We have money laying in the ground far greater than anything we can do by hurting senior citizens with their Social Security.”

Trump’s stance on payroll taxes is subject to scrutiny, particularly in light of his previous term’s suggestions of lowering payroll taxes to stimulate economic growth. Although such tax reductions might temporarily boost the economy, they threaten to undermine Social Security’s financial stability unless accompanied by alternative revenue-generating mechanisms.

This concern is amplified by Trump’s earlier policies, which leaned heavily towards deregulation and tax cuts, potentially increasing the national deficit and further exacerbating the financial pressures on Social Security’s long-term sustainability. However, giving Social Security a revenue source tie to oil might work.

It is important to underscore that any significant changes to Social Security, irrespective of the election’s outcome, would not take immediate effect. For instance, Trump’s 2020 executive order to defer the collection of payroll taxes would not have directly impacted Social Security in the short term, owing to the natural delays associated with legislative and administrative procedures.

Meanwhile, Biden has expressed his dedication to safeguarding and enhancing Social Security, firmly opposing any efforts to reduce benefits for present or future beneficiaries.

However, the budget proposal lacked specifics on President Biden’s approach for lawmakers to tackle Social Security’s impending insolvency. Furthermore, the White House has yet to initiate substantial discussions with legislators.

The Biden campaign’s website lacks a policy segment and does not feature any strategies related to Social Security. Attempts to obtain further information from the campaign went unanswered.

While both Trump and Biden have proposed strategies to address Social Security’s challenges in 2025, their approaches diverge significantly. Biden’s proposal lacks any clear plan on how to fix Social Security’s shortfall, whereas Trump’s utilization of innovative methods like leveraging oil revenues introduces a new dimension to the discourse.

Whether these approaches yield sustainable solutions remains to be seen, but Trump’s pursuit of unconventional avenues demonstrates a willingness to explore alternatives in tackling the complex issue of Social Security.