Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump have vowed to protect Social Security while accusing each other of wanting to cut the program for older Americans.
A pro-Trump political action committee ad pointed to DeSantis’ votes to raise the retirement age as a member of Congress, though he no longer holds that view.
A Newsmax reporter asked DeSantis on May 5 to respond to the PAC attack, and he said Trump held a similar position.
“Donald Trump himself wrote a book where he was talking about the need to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security to 70 and said people shouldn’t be worried about retiring, just keep working,” DeSantis said. “That’s what his words were.”
Today, people can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, but full benefits kick in when those people turn 67.
When we looked into Trump’s book, we found that DeSantis got it mostly right about Trump pushing to raise the age.
A DeSantis spokesperson pointed to CNN’s April 27 article that recounted what Trump said in his book about Social Security. Spokespeople for Trump did not reply for this fact-check.
Trump announced his bid for the presidency in November while DeSantis may announce this summer.
Trump suggested raising retirement age while considering a bid for president
Trump co-wrote the book “The America We Deserve,” which was published in January 2000 as he considered a bid for president as a Reform Party candidate. Weeks later, Trump said he wouldn’t run, declaring the Reform Party a “total mess.”
Fiscal responsibility was one of the book’s themes, and Trump warned that the Social Security trust fund would run out by 2030. (More than two decades later, the expected depletion date is 2034, barring congressional action.)
“There is no Social Security Trust Fund any more than there is a Tooth Fairy,” Trump wrote. “The fund exists only as a bookkeeping device.”
Trump said there was a way out by making changes to the program, such as allowing people to invest Social Security payments in real estate portfolios, stocks or bonds. He also said older adults should not be penalized if they want to continue working.
On raising the retirement age, Trump wrote: “We can also raise the age for receipt of full Social Security benefits to seventy.”
He explained the age limit would not affect beneficiaries: “This proposal would not include anyone who is currently retired or about to retire. Don’t put your water skis back in the basement; it would be set for those who would retire well into the third or fourth decade of the twenty-first century. A firm limit at age seventy makes sense for people now under forty. We’re living longer. We’re working longer. New medicines are extending healthy human life. Besides, how many times will you really want to take that trailer to the Grand Canyon?”
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Trump changed his mind about raising the age during the 2016 campaign
When Trump ran for president in the 2016 race, he flip-flopped on raising the retirement age.
In an August 2015 interview, Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked Trump about raising the retirement age. Trump replied: “No, I wouldn’t.”
During a Republican primary presidential debate in 2016, Trump said, “It’s my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is. Not increase the age, and to leave it as is.”
In a March 2023 speech to the Conservative Action Political Conference, Trump appeared to allude to DeSantis’ old views on Social Security, saying, “We’re not going back to people that want to destroy our great Social Security system, even some in our own party, I wonder who that might be, that want to raise the minimum age of Social Security to 70, 75, or even 80 in some cases.”
When DeSantis was a U.S. representative, he voted for a 2013 budget resolution that proposed raising the Social Security and Medicare retirement age to 70. DeSantis had said he wanted to make the programs “financially sustainable” for younger generations. More than a decade later, and ahead of a possible GOP presidential primary, DeSantis walked back that stance, telling Fox News in early March that he would not “mess with” entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
DeSantis said, “Donald Trump himself wrote a book where he was talking about the need to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security to 70.”
Trump’s 2000 book stated, “We can also raise the age for receipt of full Social Security benefits to seventy. This proposal would not include anyone who is currently retired or about to retire.”
Though, in his book, Trump did propose raising the age for full Social Security benefits to 70, this has not been his position for years. DeSantis also left out details about how Trump’s old proposal would work. We rate this statement Mostly True.
PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this fact-check.