“When I brought up the plans of some of their members in their caucus to cut Social Security… Marjorie Taylor Greene and others stood up and said, ‘Liar, liar,’” Biden said. “Well, guess what? … i [will] remember Rick Scott of Florida, the man who ran a US Senate campaign, has a plan. I have his brochure here!
Biden was referring to Scott’s plan that would require all legislation — including that related to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare — to be “sunset,” requiring votes every five years to continue.
Speaking in DeForest, Wisconsin, the president also noted that one of the state’s own senators, Republican Ron Johnson, has also expressed support for targeting the two programs in a budget cut.
Johnson, who won a hard-fought re-election race in November against the state’s former lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes, proposed last August abolishing Social Security and Medicare as federal entitlement programs, saying the programs should become programs instead which are approved annually by Congress as discretionary. expenditure.
A day after his primetime speech, Biden gathered workers in the state’s presidential battlefield, repeating several lines from his speech while focusing on the well-known themes of the need for bipartisanship and the power of unions. The speech and his performance are seen as previews when the president formally announces his re-election this spring.
Biden plans a stop in Tampa on Thursday and is expected to focus on preserving Medicare and Social Security.
Among those who jeered or expressed disbelief during Biden’s speech Tuesday night was Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). On Wednesday, Biden quoted from a 2010 video of Lee saying his “goal is to phase out Social Security” and that “Medicare and Medicaid … need to be pulled up” at their roots.
“They probably didn’t like my calling them [out] on it,” Biden said. “Many Republicans dream of cutting Social Security, Medicare. Well, let me just say this: It’s your dream, but I’m going to make it a nightmare with my veto pen.
After Lee expressed his outrage on TV at Biden saying some Republicans wanted programs like Social Security and Medicare cut, critics shared video online of an event from Lee’s Senate campaign. In a video originally posted to YouTube, Lee told a group of voters in Cache Valley, Utah on February 23, 2010, that he was about to “tell you something you’ve probably never heard from a politician.”
“My goal will be to phase out Social Security, raise it from the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said at the time. “People who advise me politically always tell me it’s dangerous and I tell them, ‘In that case it’s not worth my flight.’ That’s why I’m doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are the same species. They need to be pulled up.”
GOP Sen. Mike Lee is in disbelief that Biden is claiming that GOP wants to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Here’s (checks notes) Sen. Mike Lee saying this is EXACTLY what GOP wants.
“Adjust Social Security, pull it up by the roots, throw it away.”#SOTUpic.twitter.com/8J7E0SZ8FC
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) February 8, 2023
Critics and liberals shared the video on Twitter so often that Lee’s name became a big part of Wednesday’s trending topic on the platform. It’s not the first time Lee’s video has surfaced. During Lee’s re-election campaign last year, independent challenger Evan McMullin shared the video the day before the election.
“Mike Lee claims he supports senior citizens. So why was he caught on camera saying he will fight ‘to phase out Social Security’ and ‘raise it from the roots?’” McMullin said at the time. Lee beat McMullin by nearly 10 percentage points.
Lee’s defenders have taken issue with the edited video, saying a longer version ultimately has the then-candidate saying, “We need to defuse those who are current beneficiaries,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
A spokesman for Lee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. After the State of the Union address, Lee posted a video of an interview he had with Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R), who was the senator’s guest.
“The president of the United States has looked us in the eye and mischaracterized what half the people in the room believe,” Lee told Cox.
In a movie Posted on social media after Biden’s speech Tuesday, Greene accused Biden of lying about “Republicans and Social Security and Medicare.”
“We haven’t talked about cutting Social Security and Medicare,” she said. “Joe Biden has claimed we are going to cut Social Security and Medicare, but we are not.”
But Republican lawmakers have repeatedly made such proposals.
In the wake of Republican protests, the White House noted on Wednesday that Lee, Scott and Johnson are not the only Republicans to have expressed support for the cuts.
The list provided by the White House includes Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, who told Bloomberg News in November that Republicans would use the fight against raising the debt limit to push back on federal spending cuts. to enforce – including changes to social security. Thune suggested that Congress should consider raising the Social Security retirement age.
His comments reflect efforts by House Republicans to get Biden and other Democrats to negotiate cuts in any deal to raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have long said they will not negotiate this and will continue to push for a clean increase. Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times without negotiation during the Trump administration.
In June, the Republican Study Committee — a panel composed of a majority of House Republicans — proposed in its annual fiscal 2023 alternative budget to raise the ages of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. The report also suggests that individuals taking early retirement or who meet certain income criteria should have their payments withheld.
“President Biden clearly struck a chord last night when he addressed the long history of Republicans in Congress in cutting the Medicare and Social Security benefits that Americans pay to earn throughout their working lives,” the White House spokesman said. House, Andrew Bates, in an email.
As Biden noted in his remarks Tuesday and Wednesday, some Republicans have publicly opposed Johnson and Scott’s efforts to curtail both programs.
For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters early last year that these cuts are not part of the Republican agenda.
“We will not have a bill on our agenda that taxes half the American people and makes Social Security and Medicare disappear in five years,” McConnell said.
And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in response to Biden’s speech told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that he “said it many times before: Social Security and Medicare are off the table.”
Speaking in Wisconsin on Wednesday, the president said he found the Republican response to his mention of the Scott and Johnson proposals “interesting.”
“It sounded like they agreed to take these cuts off the table,” Biden said. “I won’t believe it until I see it in their budgets. … But it looks like we struck a deal last night in the House of Representatives.”