Joe Biden Could Leverage Social Security Into a Big Issue to Beat the GOP and Donald Trump: U.S. President Joe Biden has brought back the salience of the Social Security and Medicare issues – and embarrassed his political opponents while doing so.
It was a triumphant moment for President Biden during the State of the Union address last week. He called out “some Republicans” who want “Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” in reference to Sen. Rick Scott’s election messaging document from 2022 calling for all federal legislation to sunset after five years.
“So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?,” Joe Biden said, as his own side cheered and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) audibly called the president a liar.
“So tonight, let’s all agree — and we apparently are — let’s stand up for seniors,” Joe Biden said from the podium. “Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.”
Clearly, the idea of cuts to those programs is incredibly unpopular. It was widely seen as an opening salvo for the upcoming debt ceiling fight.
“Biden’s State of the Union and subsequent trips are viewed as a soft launch for his widely expected re-election bid, in which he intends to paint the GOP as a threat to Social Security and Medicare — the crown jewels of the Democratic-led New Deal and Great Society — seizing on decades of attempts to restructure, privatize or reduce long-term spending on the popular safety net programs,” the NBC analysis said.
“It’s a smart play for the near term in the debt limit fight, and it’s even a smarter play when we head to the 2024 re-elect,” Scott Mulhauser, a former top Biden aide, told NBC. “It moves voters, it moves seniors, it moves allegiances and alliances, and it resonates.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that some new numbers are about to come out from the Congressional Budget Office on the condition of Social Security and Medicare.
The numbers “are expected to show Medicare and Social Security spending growth rapidly outpacing the growth in federal tax revenues over the next 10 years. That is the product of a wave of baby boomers reaching retirement age and beginning to tap the programs, which provide guaranteed income and health insurance from the time benefits are claimed until death.”
And older people, who collect Social Security and Medicare, tend to be crucial voters.
Sanders, joined by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and some House cosponsors, introduced legislation to “expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year and ensure Social Security is fully funded for the next 75 years – all without raising taxes by one penny on over 93 percent of American households that make $250,000 or less.”
It’s a version of a bill that was introduced in the last Congress.
“At a time when nearly half of older Americans have no retirement savings and almost 50 percent of our nation’s seniors are trying to survive on an income of less than $25,000 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security,” Sen. Sanders said in the press release announcing the legislation. “Our job is to expand Social Security so that every senior in America can retire with the dignity that they deserve and every person with a disability can live with the security they need … The legislation that we are introducing today will expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year and will extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years by making sure that the wealthiest people in our society pay their fair share into the system.”
The bill is virtually certain to not pass in the current Congress. The version in the last Congress did not meaningfully advance, at a time when Democrats controlled both houses, while Republicans now control the House and would not advance it.
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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.