President Biden’s recently resurfaced attempts to sunset Social Security and Medicare are no longer part of his agenda. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed Thursday as Biden traveled to Florida falsely accused Republicans once again of trying to cut the old-age programs.
“Is the only difference the fact that Biden’s no longer in favor of that?” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre on Air Force One, referring to Biden’s attacks on a plan by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) to sunset all federal laws after five years and Biden’s own 1975 legislation to do the same thing every four years.
“A bill from the 1970s is not part of the president’s agenda. You have to listen to what the president said the last couple of years about protecting and fighting for Medicare and Social Security and that will remain the case,” Jean-Pierre said.
“He was very clear when he spoke to millions of Americans at the State of the Union about that. He’ll be clear today when he’s in Florida on what he sees [as] the fight ahead, and how important it is to protect again, what taxpayers have paid into and what they deserve, Medicare and Social Security.”
Scott’s proposal has virtually no support in Congress, but Biden has used his fringe plan to repeatedly blast Republicans as intent on slashing senior-citizen benefits — despite House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) repeatedly ruling it out.
Biden, who attracted heckling from Republicans Tuesday night when he claimed that they were trying to cut the programs, faced accusations of hypocrisy Wednesday when it emerged that he had in fact pushed to sunset federal laws and to freeze cost-of-living increases to the senior benefit programs throughout his 36 years in the Senate.
In 1975, Biden introduced legislation to sunset “all provisions of the law in effect on the effective date of this Act which authorizes new budget authority for a period of more than four fiscal years.” In a speech at the time, Biden said he was worried about the “staggering” increase in federal spending.
In 1984, he cosponsored legislation to freeze federal spending and suspend cost of living increases for Social Security.
As late as 1995, Biden was boasting about his efforts, saying in a Senate floor speech, “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well, I meant Medicare and Medicaid … and I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time and I tried it a fourth time.”
Biden’s flip-flopping resurfaced in a dossier compiled by former Republican Capitol Hill aide Chris Jacobs, the founder of the Juniper Research Group.
The White House has defended Biden’s recent messaging that the GOP is coming for entitlements, in part, by pointing to advocacy by members of the large House Republican Study Committee to raise the retirement age for future beneficiaries.
Speaking of people who want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Veteran benefits… #SOTU #sotu2023 pic.twitter.com/hRmvLcU2DY
— Wade Miller (@WadeMiller_USMC) February 8, 2023
Biden outraged Republicans with his attacks during the State of the Union.
“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” Biden claimed amid an uproar from the GOP side of the House chamber.
The president first attempted to calm the heckling by telling his audience, “I’m not saying it’s a majority” — before growing defiant as the din increased.
“Anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal,” Biden said amid the jeers.
“Liar!” shouted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
“I’m glad to see — no, I tell you, I enjoy conversion,” the president shot back.
McCarthy has repeatedly and publicly ruled out such cuts as he and other conservatives push for reductions in federal discretionary spending and a clawback of unspent pandemic stimulus funds to resolve a debt ceiling impasse.
On Tuesday night, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) tweeted that Biden himself was cutting into the social safety net by pointing to a recent proposed $3 billion cut to the enhanced-benefits Medicare Advantage program, tweeting, “It’s @JoeBiden, NOT Republicans, who is proposing Medicare Advantage cuts…. this is especially cruel.”
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