Trump Social Security Holdover Blocking Stimulus Checks to Retirees and the Disabled
Reports are surfacing that millions of retired and disabled Americans’ $1,400 stimulus checks are being held up because of an ongoing holdup taking place in broad and open daylight at the Social Security Administration.
According to a number of Congressional Democrats, the culprit is (who else?) the Trump-appointed Social Security administrator who has simply, flatly, refused to hand over absolutely essential payment information required by the Internal Revenue Service. This info is needed in order that the IRS can begin issuing coronavirus relief checks to upwards of 30 million retired and/or disabled people.
“We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” so sayeth House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-MA) in a letter (pdf) to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.
Other Democrats, including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative John Larson (D-CT), have long been after President Joe Biden to get rid of Saul, a dyed-in-the-wool Trumper and whose term does not expire until 2025.
Biden, as seems to be his wont when it comes to certain Trumpeteers, has not indicated that he is even thinking about removing Saul. To be sure, though, he has rid the federal government of other Trump holdovers in other agencies and before their terms have ended.
At this writing, the IRS has issued more than 127 million payments. Representative Neal has also asked both Social Security and the IRS to explain exactly why payments to Social Security beneficiaries, who constitute many of the most vulnerable and poorest citizens, are delayed.
In his letter, Representative Neal noted that he and the Democrats were “aware that the IRS asked SSA to start sending payment files two weeks before the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021” ― yet here we are, now more than two weeks after passage of the law and Social Security still has not acted.
A Social Security spokesperson has said in an email that the agency will begin sending the payment file on March 25 (today). He claimed that the SNAFU at SSA was entirely the fault of Congress. You see, Congress, he claimed, did not provide Social Security with the exact same kind of appropriation that they gave the agency for the first round of payments last year. (Whatever that even means)?
The SSA spokes-mouth also wanted everyone to know that,
Social Security staff is working day and night with Treasury and IRS representatives to ensure that the electronic file of Social Security and SSI recipients is complete, accurate, and ready to be used to issue payments.
That, at least, is something. But an anonymous Congressional Democratic aide said that even if and when Social Security sends the file to the IRS, it will still take at least another week before people will receive their checks, debit cards, or bank deposits.
Like all Trump appointees, this character Saul is a piece of work. Saul’s nomination was roundly denounced by Social Security and disability advocacy groups. He had been long and intimately involved with the right-wing Manhattan Institute — an outfit which is almost religiously dedicated to the dismantling of Social Security as an idea and social good, and to that end, has thus repeatedly, vociferously demanded deep and debilitating cuts in Social Security benefits.
And then there is his utter lack of experience with Social Security issues.
In terms of character, there is a credible accusation that this man once impersonated a police chief while trespassing on his bicycle.
But, again, most importantly, it should surprise no one, therefore, that his main function and lifelong purpose (like so many, many Republicans) has been to try to cut disability and retirement benefits. So it should also be unsurprising that this man would do everything he can possibly think of to gum up the works of such a massive (and much needed) relief program mediated through the hated Social Security Administration.
The real problem is not this particular Trump holdover, but a hesitant, too deferential…too cautious president
And then there is the ongoing train-wreck over at the Post Office. It was just a little over a month ago that another Trump appointee, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General, literally thumbed his nose at Democratic legislators when they quizzed him about the shenanigans that he and Trump tried to pull in order to stop people from voting by mail in both last November and then this January elections.
When asked how long he intended to remain in position, DeJoy’s snide response went into full-on snark mode: “…a long time…get used to me,” said the also major league, heavy hitting, Trump campaign and Republican Party donor.
Yes, Biden has filled three heretofore vacant seats on the Board of Governors of the Postal Service — all Democrats. He now has a four-seat majority, but it seems the one other non-Biden-appointed Democrat still sides with the three Republicans and is happy to keep DeJoy on board.
Biden should — must — wipe the slate clean and fire them all. Then appoint people who want to see the Post Office succeed.
As long as Trumpistas are in place, Biden (and this country) will be stymied, if not stopped.
And so, even though he has been summarily kicked out of office; even though he has been banned completely from all social media platforms; even though civil and criminal prosecutoral walls are inexorably closing in on both Trump and his legions of Trumpeteers, his greedy, greasy, and grifting fingers, and more importantly, his malevolent mindset, still fumes and festers on and within everything that he touched (infected) during the course of the last four tortuous years.
Recall that when Trump assumed office in January of 2017, by this time, March, he had denounced, dismissed and in some cases destroyed the careers and livelihoods of any and all Obama holdovers he could find. Trump took a wrecking ball to any and everything that his predecessor might have touched or even thought about touching. The result, of course, is the damn-near completely collapsed society now left to Joe Biden (and us) to try to clean up, rectify, remedy, and rebuild.
Thus, in this one and only thing, Biden must follow Trump’s example — purge each and every Trumpster from every nook and cranny of the federal government — NOW!