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Yes, Republicans Like Ron DeSantis, Have Advocated Cuts to Social Security and Medicare for Years

Despite their recent denials and the catcalls during President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address, Republicans including FL Gov. Ron DeSantis have been calling for Medicare and Social Security cuts for years; decades really. Even Donald Trump has promised to use the issue to attack his 2024 Republican nomination challengers. And, he will have lots of ammunition to use during the primaries.

Just last year the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives called for a wide variety of cuts to Social Security.

TPM: “Last year the Republican Study Committee – a House caucus which includes about 75% of all House Republicans – released a proposed 2023 budget which included basically every kind of Social Security cut on offer.”
“The Blueprint to Save America proposed raising the eligibility age at first to 70 and then higher if and when life expectancy goes up; it proposed cutting (or in their words ‘modernizing’) the benefit formula for everyone currently 54 and under; means-testing Social Security benefits; including work requirements for some Social Security beneficiaries; and allowing people to divert payroll taxes into private investment accounts – aka “retirement freedom.”

Republican plans to cut entitlements go back decades and are a staple of their plans to balance the budget while also cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

New York Times, Paul Krugman: ... "Republicans have tried to make deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare every time they thought there might be a political window of opportunity." ... It has been widely forgotten, but soon after taking office Ronald Reagan proposed major cuts to Social Security. But he backed down in the face of a political backlash ..."
Vox: Instead, in more recent years, Republicans targeted Social Security and Medicare specifically. President George W. Bush mounted a doomed attempt to privatize Social Security in his second term; in the early 2010s, Rep. Paul Ryan made dramatic overhauls to Social Security and Medicare part of his ambitious policy agenda.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis served in Congress, he also advocated major changes to both Medicare and Social Security.

Business Insider: As a congressional candidate, DeSantis repeatedly expressed support for Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed overhaul to entitlement programs by privatizing aspects of Medicare and Social Security," ... "Congressman DeSantis went even further than that position. As Josh Barro wrote, DeSantis supported the even more drastic Republican Study Committee's budget proposal that aimed to balance the federal budget in four years, instead of Ryan's decade. To achieve such cuts, as the Committee for the Responsible Budget detailed back then, required changing Medicare to a partially private system by 2019 and raising the retirement age to 70. It would have also increased the full retirement age for Social Security to 70 as well."

More recently, Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida proposed a plan to strip entitlement status from Social Security and Medicare and require Congress to reauthorize them every five years to keep them operating. GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have also supported the idea. And, just yesterday, former Vice-President and 2024 candidate Mike Pence said that cuts to Medicare and Social Security should be "on the table for the long term."

Republicans are in a quandary of their own making. They promise to balance the budget without raising taxes and the only way to do that is through deep cuts to defense spending or major cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In the face of Russian aggression and rising Chinese power, reductions in the defense budget are off the table, so the GOP is stuck with entitlement cuts or the status quo.

All of this is not to say that we don't need to make some changes to Medicare and Social Security to ensure their long-term health. However, without some new revenue to support the programs the cuts alone would have to be too deep to gain much support in Congress. This is one of those issues that demands a grand compromise of smaller cuts along with tax increases.

By: Don Lam & Curated Content


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