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HEADLINES: Republicans Have Shown Their Hand As They Seek Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security

By January 26, 2023No Comments

GOP Lawmakers Eye Cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid With An Upcoming Debate Over the Debt Ceiling and Appropriations 

Republicans have not shied away from stating their goal for the 118th Congress: cutting Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. For months, GOP lawmakers have said they will rip away the basic benefits that are a lifeline for millions of seniors and working families. Cuts to Medicare and Social Security would disproportionately hurt people of color and rural Americans. Coverage dating back to before the election shows that Republicans have made crystal clear that they want to use their House majority to slash these vital programs to fund tax breaks for big corporations.  

Insider: Republicans’ Plans to Slash Social Security and Medicare Are Becoming Clearer: ‘We Have No Choice but to Make Hard Decisions.’ “‘We have no choice but to make hard decisions,’ Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Post. ‘Everybody has to look at everything.’ The Post reported that in the past few days, a group of Republican lawmakers have pushed for House panels that would recommend changes to Social Security and Medicare.” [Insider, 1/25/23]

Washington Post: House GOP Eyes Social Security, Medicare Amid Spending Battle. “Only weeks after taking control of the chamber, GOP lawmakers under new Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have rallied around firm pledges for austerity, insisting their efforts can improve the nation’s fiscal health. They have signaled they are willing to leverage the fight over the debt ceiling — and the threat of a fiscal doomsday — to seek major policy concessions from the Biden administration.” [Washington Post, 1/24/23]

HuffPost: Republicans Signal Cuts To Social Security, Medicare With New House Majority. “Their plans to target health care programs follow demands from a group of conservatives that helped elect House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over the weekend. Those far-right lawmakers have sought across-the-board spending cuts in order to tackle the growing national debt. But the narrow House GOP majority ― McCarthy can afford to lose just four votes on any bill ― is far more divided on cuts to defense spending than for entitlement programs. ‘I’m all for a balanced budget, but we’re not going to do it on the backs of our troops and our military,’ Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), a former Army Green Beret, said Monday during an interview on Fox Business. ‘If we really want to talk about the debt and spending, it’s the entitlements programs.’”[HuffPost, 1/9/23]

Axios: Debt Ceiling Fight Looms Over Medicare and Medicaid. “Why it matters: It’s not clear which cuts House Republicans will push for in exchange for raising the debt ceiling later this year — likely this summer — but at least some say Medicare and Medicaid should be on the table. Others, anticipating Democratic attacks, are saying they want to steer clear of the programs. What they’re saying: ‘We’re going to have to look at the whole board,’ conservative Rep. Barry Loudermilk told Axios, including mandatory spending like Medicare and Medicaid. ‘The easiest to start with is discretionary, but the main driver of the national debt is the mandatory.’ ‘Everything’s on the table,’ he added.” [Axios, 1/12/23]

Axios: GOP Floats Medicare Changes While Ducking Details. “What they’re saying: ‘If we’re going raise the debt ceiling, we can’t just raise it without focusing on some way to address the debt and the deficit,’ Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), a member of the House GOP’s health care task force, told Axios, adding Medicare should be made ‘sustainable over time.’ ‘We’re going to have a lot of hearings on this,’ Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the current top Republican on the Budget Committee who wants to move up to chairman of Ways and Means, told Axios. ‘I’m not going to get into the inner details.’ ‘Everything is on the table, we haven’t really nailed down any specific policies one way or the other,’ Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), who is running to chair the House Budget panel. ‘I think it could be wrapped up with that [debt ceiling talks], that’s shaping up to be pretty dynamic.’ [Axios, 11/3/22]

New York Times: Republicans, Eyeing Majority, Float Changes to Social Security and Medicare. “The Republican leaders who would decide what legislation the House and the Senate would consider if their party won control of Congress have not said specifically what, if anything, they would do to the programs. Yet several influential Republicans have signaled a new willingness to push for Medicare and Social Security spending cuts as part of future budget negotiations with President Biden. Their ideas include raising the age for collecting Social Security benefits to 70 from 67 and requiring many older Americans to pay higher premiums for their health coverage. The ideas are being floated as a way to narrow government spending on programs that are set to consume a growing share of the federal budget in the decades ahead.” [New York Times, 11/2/22]

Fox News: Republicans Eye Using Debt Limit Hike to Overhaul Entitlement Programs if Entrusted With Majority. “Still, some Republicans say the key to shoring up both Social Security and Medicare might be by means-testing welfare programs and putting work requirements in place for beneficiaries. ‘There are over 70-plus federal welfare programs. The American people believe there should be work requirements for all those programs for able-bodied healthy adults,’ said Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, who is vying to lead the House Ways and Means Committee.” [Fox News, 10/19/22]

Washington Post: GOP To Use Debt Limit To Force Spending Cuts, McCarthy Says. “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending. … In an interview in August, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life. ‘If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,’ Johnson said. ‘And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot.’” [Washington Post, 10/18/22]

Bloomberg: House GOP’s Scalise Defends Medicare, Social Security Plans. “Scalise is a member of largest House GOP caucus, the Republican Study Committee, which has proposed changes that would result in lower benefits for some future recipients. Scalise’s office said in an email he hasn’t specifically signed on to the RSC plan, however. … The RSC proposal would gradually raise the eligibility ages for both programs and slow the growth of benefits for higher earners in Social Security.  Medicare would transition to a new model where seniors would receive premium subsidies to buy a government run public option or privately run insurance.” [Bloomberg, 10/16/22]

Bloomberg: Entitlement, Spending Cap Plans Linked by GOP to Debt-Limit Deal. “The four Republicans interested in serving as House Budget Committee chairman in the next Congress said in interviews that next year’s deadline to raise or suspend the debt ceiling is a point of leverage if their party can win control of the House in the November midterm elections. The Republican position — which members are still formulating — could set the stage for an explosive standoff next year, reminiscent of the 2011 negotiations when the Tea Party wave of Republicans took on the Obama administration over spending.” [Bloomberg, 10/11/22]