Who Will Stop The GOP From Eviscerating Those Programs?
As DeSantis sees his chances of beating Trump fade away. He’s finally released as series of nearly two dozen videos showing Trump’s severe cognitive decline— and a simple look into why Trump can’t debate the younger candidates. But there is one point— just one— where Trump diverges from the other Republican candidates (and from MAGA-Mike) where, he’s kind of right and they’re entirely wrong: Social Security and Medicare policy.
Basically all of them embrace the unpopular GOP agenda to murder— either quickly or over time— Social Security and Medicare. Trump’s animal instincts tell him that abolishing the two most popular government programs in history is a bad political move. The rest of them don’t seem to understand what happens when you grasp a third rail.
As if their abortion hubris wasn’t bad enough, House Republicans are literally bringing up Social Security and Medicare again. Rather than get behind Democratic proposals to make the rich pay their fair share to keep the programs rolling, the rich— and their pawns in Congress— want to fight the battles they lost for the last 80 years: ending Social Security and Medicare. And MAGA Mike is leading the charge by reviving Paul Ryan’s failed deficit commission. MAGA-Mike’s “fervent support for trillions of dollars in cuts,” reported Nathaniel Weixel, “during his time as chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) could be a blueprint for GOP budgets if the party wins control of the government… Johnson promised to establish a bipartisan debt commission ‘immediately,’ and indicated at a press conference this past week that he was close to naming members. The idea for a 16-member debt commission that would examine Social Security and Medicare solvency was initially floated by McCarthy as part of debt limit negotiations… Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid currently make up nearly half of the entire federal budget, with a total annual price tag of $2.7 trillion.”
MAGA-Mike’s plan for a vote on the cuts immediately after the 2024 election so that the Republicans don’t win up with 88 House seats and 17 Senate seats like they did after the 1936 elections. White House spokesman Andrew Bates: “On top of breaking their promise to the country about keeping the government open, the House GOP is now threatening to single-handedly shut the American government down unless they can jam a death panel for Medicare and Social Security down the country’s throat.”
[T]hat bill failed to advance amid House GOP infighting, and the commission was not included in the legislation that ultimately passed both chambers to keep the government funded through mid-November.
Still, Johnson is pushing ahead.
“I believe we’re going to have very thoughtful people on both sides of the aisle in both chambers come together and have some very productive discussions about that,” Johnson told reporters. “When I said I want to do it immediately, I meant that, and it’s a top priority right now.”
While Johnson said he doesn’t believe he should dictate objectives or benchmarks, Democrats and left-wing advocacy groups have said his record speaks for itself.
“Mike Johnson was one of the chief architects of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Mike Johnson also wants to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said during a CNN interview after Johnson was elected.
“The kind of commission Johnson announced is designed to give Congress political cover for cutting Americans’ earned benefits,” Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement Oct. 25 after Johnson was elected.
“It is unfortunate and disappointing that one of the Speaker’s first priorities is creating a mechanism intended to slash programs that American workers pay for in every paycheck, fully expecting the benefits to be there when they need them,” Richtman said.
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, said he thinks President Biden learned important lessons from former President Obama trying to negotiate the debt limit with Republicans after they took control of the House in 2011 and forced a series of deep spending cuts.
“The fiscal cliff, the supercommittee, sequestration, all of those things were a disaster for President Obama’s ability to push his agenda,” Lawson said. “And I think you’ve seen that President Biden learned those lessons really well and understands that this is just a political trap by the Republicans to try to get Democrats to take the blame for Republicans’ long-standing policy of cutting and or destroying Social Security.”
As RSC chair in 2020, Johnson authored a budget that called for raising the Medicare and Social Security eligibility ages. It called for $2 trillion in cuts to Medicare and $750 billion in cuts to Social Security.
It also called for turning Medicare into a premium support program, where private plans compete alongside traditional Medicare. Instead of a guaranteed benefit, beneficiaries would use a voucher to buy coverage on either a private or Medicare plan.
Johnson’s past support for cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security is in line with longtime Republican dogma. GOP leaders in the past have hammered Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as socialist initiatives— inefficient and anti-American— that threaten individual freedoms.
Earlier this year, the RSC— now chaired by Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK)— issued a budget proposal that called for gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 69.
The RSC is the largest conservative bloc in the House, and it currently includes nearly 80 percent of all Republicans. But at least some members argue the group’s plans shouldn’t be taken seriously.
“RSC budgets have always been a joke. Period,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA). “They’ve never been implemented.”