Republicans like the former vice president are proving President Biden was right when he said some members of the party want to cut the programs
Republicans excoriated President Biden for suggesting during his State of the Union address earlier this month that some party members want to cut Medicare and Social Security. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may have said doing so is off the table, but the GOP is clearly thirsting to cut entitlements, and Biden was right in saying that some have floated doing away with Medicare and Social Security. One such Republican is former vice president and presumptive 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence.
“We all know where the real issue is in terms of long-term debt for the United States,” Pence told CNBC on Wednesday. “I respect the Speaker’s commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations, we’ve got to put them on the table in the long term.”
Pence suggested something similar on Fox News last week. “We have to have a conversation about reforming entitlements in the days ahead. We can replace the New Deal programs with a better deal. In Social Security, you can keep all the promises that you made to seniors and people that will retire in the next 20 years — no changes. But to give options to younger Americans to invest a portion of their Social Security in a private savings account, I think is an idea whose time will come.”
Host Sandra Smith was skeptical. “You think there’s an appetite for that?
“I…look…it’s all about leadership, Sandra,” Pence replied.
Pence isn’t the only Republican to call for an end to the programs. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) last year released a widely maligned “Plan to Rescue America” calling for all federal legislation — including Medicare and Social Security — to be sunset in five years. “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last year after Scott released his plan.
Democrats and McConnell have ramped up their criticism of Scott’s plan following Biden’s State of the Union address, prompting Scott to amend its language last week while complaining about the plan’s detractors. “I have never supported cutting Social Security or Medicare, ever,” he claimed in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner. “To say otherwise is a disingenuous Democrat lie from a very confused president. And Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is also well aware of that. It’s shallow gotcha politics, which is what Washington does.”
An Economist/YouGov poll found last month that only 17 percent of Americans — and only 22 percent of Republicans — support reducing government spending on Medicare and Social Security.