Biden warns against planned GOP cuts as growing economy boosts Social Security solvency - TAI News
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President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On May 6, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the health of the Social Security Trust Funds, the U.S. Treasury accounts that pay out benefits under the program. The report projects that the program will remain solvent until at least 2035, a year later than had been estimated in the 2023 report.

The trustees attribute this change to the continued strength of the American economy, along with increased job and wage growth that has occurred in recent years and low unemployment.

“Medicare is stronger and Social Security remains strong,” President Joe Biden said in a statement in response to the report. “As long as I am President, I will keep strengthening Social Security and Medicare and protecting them from Republicans’ attempts to cut benefits Americans have earned.”

Biden reiterated his call to further extend the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs by increasing the revenue collected in taxes from the wealthy.

While congressional Republicans have not coalesced around legislation on the safety net programs, the conservative House Republican Study Committee has offered a proposal titled “Fiscal Sanity to Save America.” The committee is composed of 179 of the 218 members of the Republican House majority.

Michigan Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John James, John Moolenaar and Tim Walberg are all members of the committee.

The proposal calls for raising the retirement age at which people can begin collecting Social Security benefits from 67 to 69. The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that making this change would cause a deep cut in benefits, disproportionately affecting lower- and middle-income households.

The Republican plan would also have the federal government transition some spending on Medicare to a privatized “premium support” program. A premium support system would allow Medicare funds to be used to purchase private insurance plans instead of a traditional Medicare coverage plan. In a 2012 analysis of a similar proposal, the Center on Budget determined that such a plan would lead to significant cost increases for Medicare beneficiaries.

In his statement, Biden characterized the Republican plan as siding with the wealthy and special interests and called the changes “cruel and unnecessary.”

Other leading Republican figures have also backed changes to Social Security that would cut benefits for some.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in March, 

“There is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements.”

In a 2023 interview, Michigan Senate candidate Mike Rogers said the government should “rethink what retirement looks like” and called raising the retirement age an option that has to be considered.

Cutting benefits is unpopular with voters. In a March 2023 poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 79% said they opposed cutting Social Security benefits, and 67% said they were against raising Medicare premiums.

Echoing Biden’s position, 58% of respondents said they supported increasing taxes for the wealthy to pay for Medicare.

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