Over the past couple of months, Republicans claimed — over and over again — that they will not propose cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But despite the promises, a new budget proposal, released last week by the Republican Study Committee, details the changes and cuts they would make to the entitlement programs some of the nation’s most vulnerable depend on.
The committee, made up largely of House GOP caucus members, details cuts to Social Security, partly through making so-called “modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees.”
The 167-page document also proposes turning Medicare into a “premium support” system that would subsidize private insurance options that compete with traditional Medicare, a nod at the kind of privatization of the program that Republicans have pushed for years.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the plan a “devastating attack on Medicare, Social Security, and Americans’ access to health coverage and prescription drugs.”
“The Republican Study Committee is taking aim at the Medicare benefits all Americans pay to earn by repealing the new power President Biden gave it to negotiate lower drug costs, to address rapid drug price increases, and to cap the price of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries,” she added. “This is exactly what Republicans in Congress pledged not to do…”
Jean-Pierre is not wrong.
The cuts laid out in the proposal clash with the public promises Republican lawmakers and presidential nominees have been making over the past several months, declarations that fly in the face of decades of attempts by Republicans to slash the programs and recent policy proposals from party leadership.
In January, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said cuts to Medicare and Social Security were “off the table.”
A month later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed the sentiment, saying initiatives to sunset Social Security and Medicare are not a “Republican plan.”
Former President Donald Trump also joined in the rhetoric, repeatedly insisting he will not support entitlement cuts if he wins his third bid for the White House.
Similarly, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) promised not to touch Social Security programs, breaking from his past support for privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age back when he was a lawmaker.
And setting aside the noteworthy yet individual promises from Republican politicians, earlier this year, in a quick-witted maneuver, President Joe Biden got dozens of Republicans to collectively agree they would not cut funding for Medicare or Social Security during his State of the Union speech.
“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I’m not saying it’s the majority,” Biden said.
Republicans quickly cut him off with shouts of “No!,” coupled with visible head shakes and thumbs downs.
Your favorite heckler Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) even stood up to shout, “Liar!” at Biden.
He continued, going off script,“So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?”
Republicans began applauding in response to his question.
“Alright, we got unanimity!” Biden replied.
Despite the several public declarations that cuts to entitlement programs are off the table, the RSC budget is clear in their proposal and messaging.
The committee has spent decades proposing cuts to entitlement programs with little hope of passing but some House Republicans think this year’s plan could make it to the House floor.
“The RSC Budget is more than just a financial statement. It is a statement of priorities,” the document reads.