For decades, Democrats have been trying to terrify American seniors by falsely claiming that Republicans will take away their Social Security. The fear mongering has only gotten worse in the age of President Donald Trump.
Five years ago, they warned that Trump would dismantle Social Security, eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and let the insurance companies pick hapless American patients apart like vultures. As if that weren’t enough, they insisted the cost of prescription drugs would skyrocket.
Despite the hysterical shrieking from the left, American seniors didn’t buy it, voting for Trump by a seven-point margin.
From our current vantage point, with almost four years of the Trump administration behind us, those votes have been vindicated. Did President Trump come for Social Security? Did he take away Medicare or coverage for pre-existing conditions? Did drug prices suddenly spike? No, no, and no.
In reality, President Trump has done exactly what he said he would do. He made protecting Social Security for current and future generations of retirees a key component of his domestic agenda. He made it the official policy of the United States government to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. And he presided over the first period of sustained decreases in prescription drug prices in decades.
He accomplished all this by doing what no president before him dared: He took on Big Pharma and the insurance industry to secure the best prices possible for Americans, especially seniors on Medicare. He reorganized Medicare drug purchasing on a “most favored nation” basis, ending a decades-long racket that effectively forced Americans to subsidize low prescription drug prices in other countries. He cut out the middlemen and demanded that drug rebates be passed on to seniors directly. To boot, in the absence of action from Congress, he distributed $200 rebate cards to help defray the costs of drugs during the pandemic.
In short, the Trump administration did what the administration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden promised but failed to do.
Given that it’s now plainly clear that efforts in 2016 to scare seniors about Trump were nothing but lies and fear mongering, how could anyone take seriously similar claims being made now? We have four years of experience with President Trump’s record, making such attacks bizarrely incongruous with our own experience. Using the coronavirus pandemic to lend credence to unfounded attacks on the president’s record on entitlements crosses the line from unhinged to shameful.
When President Trump used the powers of his office to put money back into the hands of people struggling during the pandemic by delaying payroll tax deadlines, for instance, it was portrayed by his opponents as a backdoor scheme to do away with Social Security. They provided no evidence, of course, because their claim was based entirely on fantasy.
The Democrats should demonstrate more respect for the intellectual capacity of American seniors. President Trump has preserved and strengthened entitlements for senior citizens, yet his Democratic foes apparently think they can still scare people into thinking otherwise with lies that already have been roundly discredited.
Michele Bachmann was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2015. Her district in Minnesota included St. Cloud and several of the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. She wrote this for the News Tribune.