by Ron Algood – Editor-at-Large
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida will play a key role in the 2020 election no doubt, but could one of the most dependable voting demographics in the state unwittingly help to vault entitlements into a slow death spiral affecting millions?
Enter The Villages, a senior community north of Orlando where loyal republicans outnumber democrats five-to-one. Their loyalty to Trump seems unwavering, however, could such loyalty cost the elderly their livelihood as they know it? Is that loyalty reflective of other senior communities throughout Florida or just an anomaly? Because the entitlement time-bomb is ticking, the fuse is lit, and it runs straight through Florida, a senior citizen stronghold.
Despite the President’s broken promises not to cut Medicare or Social Security, Trump remains popular throughout certain communities in Florida. Combined with the fact that the state is worth 29 electoral votes (3rd in the country, tied with N.Y.), and yes, Florida may decide the next President. Unfortunately, if it’s a second term for Trump, all signs point to an Entitlement Apocalypse.
If you’re one of the 76 million-plus baby-boomers in America that rely or soon will rely on Medicare or Social Security, and this doesn’t concern you, it should. Trump’s proposed budget calls for an $845 billion dollar cut to Medicare over the next ten years. And that’s just one of 30 promises the President has already broken.
According to the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Budget, without new legislation, the Social Security Trust Fund will run dry in 2035. Then the fund will only be able to survive with 20 percent cuts across the board. That means retirees and beneficiaries will only receive about 75-80 percent of what’s owed to them. The reason they’re called entitlements is because Americans have worked and payed into the system their entire lives. They’re entitled to them!
Currently, the payroll tax that funds the trust is capped at $132,900. Any income above that threshold is tax exempt. It’s a system that’s considered archaic and unfair because low and middle income people pay into the system based on 100% of their income, while contributions from someone making a million dollars or more is based on about 13% or less. Lifting that cap is the most popular solution. It’s an idea that more than 85% of Americans support, and most Democrats in Congress endorse. Contrarily, most Republicans reject the plan, supporting only cuts to one’s benefits.
Saving Social Security is political dynamite, so it’s no wonder it’s been cast aside by this president. In the lead up to the 2016 election, the topic didn’t come up until the last question of the 3rd and final debate. Ironically, It took a conservative news anchor from Fox News, Chris Wallace, to expose the fact that Donald Trump has no plan for saving entitlements. In Trump’s own words he said, “I’m going kill Obamacare,” in response to the query – clearly a red herring. Trump changed the subject because he has no plan! It’s just one of the many reasons the next presidential election is so crucial.
It’s also the reason this hypothetical map should scare the hell out of every senior citizen in Florida! It takes into account democrats winning back most Northeastern states, while forfeiting the Midwest. In this scenario, Florida decides who occupies the White House in 2021, and consequently, whether or not Social Security and Medicare survive.
Ron Algood is a Florida native, senior citizen activist, and wildlife conservationist. He’s a graduate of The University of South Florida with degrees in Mass Communications and Public Relations. He’s been published by HCC- The Hawkeye, USF – The Oracle, and The Tampa Bay Times – TBT Edition.