President Joe Biden on Record to Change Social Security Too: It’s a long-held rule in politics: don’t mess with Social Security and Medicare.
Both parties often accuse each other of trying to change the popular retirement and medical insurance programs.
President Joe Biden has been one to criticize Republicans in Congress for trying to cut and even eliminate Social Security and Medicare.
But an unlikely source has found that Biden himself, as a U.S. Senator in the 1980s, wanted to make changes to the age when future recipients of Social Security could retire.
Joe Biden Said Republicans Are the Bad Guys on Social Security and Medicare
In an interesting investigation by left-leaning CNN, the network found that Joe Biden has for months repeatedly accused the Republicans of wanting the programs to “sunset” or end. That’s what the president said during his 2023 State of the Union speech.
Later, on February 9, Biden said, “A lot of Republicans their dream is to cut Social Security and Medicare. On February 15, the president exclaimed that cuts to the programs were a Republican dream and that “I am their nightmare. They are thinking about how to gut and eliminate these programs.”
Senator Joe Biden Wanted to Change the Programs Too
But CNN unearthed video from then Senator Joe Biden speaking on the Senate floor in 1987. Joe Biden, at that time, called for tinkering with Social Security.
“The year 2010, we are going to change the retirement age to Social Security. You cannot retire at age 65, you must be 65 and years and three months old. In the year 2012, 65 and 6 months. Literally raise incrementally the retirement age…to reach a retirement age between 68 and 70.”
The Longer You Wait, the More You Can Benefit from Social Security
As it stands now, Social Security allows one to begin taking benefits at the age of 62. But the longer a person waits the higher the monthly amount is. For example, the full retirement age is 67, but one can maximize their benefits by waiting to take Social Security until the age of 70.
Republicans Deny They Want Cuts or Changes
Congressional Republicans have denied they want to change anything about the Social Security program. In mid-March of last year, Senator Mitt Romney, normally benign and mild in his public statements, became animated when questioning a White House official at a hearing.
Romney was incensed at testimony from the director of the White House Office of the Management of the Budget Shalanda Young. The director told Romney during questioning that “current members have well-known policies out there to cut Social Security and Medicare.”
The senator quickly cut her off and denied this was the case. “That is simply wrong, and it’s not honest to say that to members of Congress. That is simply wrong.”
Former President Donald Trump, himself a vocal supporter of Social Security and Medicare, has warned Republican lawmakers not to change the programs.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in video message he sent on his social media network Truth Social.
Romney and Trump recognize that Democrats’ efforts to yoke Republicans to changes in the programs is politically dangerous. This line of attack could scare seniors into voting Democrat if they thought that Social Security and Medicare hung in the balance.
Biden Saw the Long-Term Problem
Notably, then-Senator Biden recognized that Social Security needs reform with higher retirement ages to save the trust fund. There are fewer payers into the system and more people retiring and seeking benefits daily. The Social Security trust fund is scheduled to run out in 2037. Before that time presidents and legislators must produce some type of fix, whether that means increasing payroll taxes in which employees pay into Social Security and Medicare, raising the full retirement age, or cutting benefits.
None of these changes would be palatable for recipients or workers. Until then, both parties will point fingers about who wants to make changes and who doesn’t. Accusations about the programs could have electoral consequences for the next two to three decades.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.