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Biden says Social Security is on the ‘chopping block’ if Republicans win Congress

Sept. 27, 2022 Updated Tue., Sept. 27, 2022 at 9:05 p.m.

By Alan Rappeport New York Times

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that Republicans posed a threat to Social Security and Medicare, amplifying an effort by Democrats to make the fate of America’s social safety net programs a central campaign issue before November’s midterm elections.

The comments were part of a push by Democrats across the country to steer the political conversation away from soaring prices and growing recession fears and remind anxious voters that some Republicans have been calling for restructuring or scaling back entitlement programs that retirees have relied on for decades.

The strategy is a return to a familiar election-year theme. Although Biden, who spoke from the White House’s Rose Garden, offered few details about how he would preserve the benefits, he insisted that if Republicans regained control of Congress they would try to take them away.

“What do you think they’re going to do?” Biden asked, brandishing a copy of a plan drafted by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., that would allow Social Security and Medicare to “sunset” if Congress did not pass new legislation to extend them.

Scott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The criticism has put Republicans on the defensive, with many arguing that their policies would ensure that Social Security and Medicare do not run out of money.

Despite suggestions of their imminent demise, Social Security and Medicare are unlikely to be altered as long as Biden is in power. Top Republicans including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have said that Scott’s proposal is a nonstarter.

But decades of political squabbling have left the programs in limbo.

The finances of Social Security and Medicare have been on unstable ground for years, and Congress has been unable to come together to find a solution to secure the solvency of the programs.

Biden did not offer a specific proposal for the programs on Tuesday beyond keeping them out of the hands of Republicans. He also took aim at Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who is facing re-election and has suggested that all federal spending, including for Social Security and Medicare, should be reviewed annually by Congress.

Democratic senators like Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called earlier for expanding Social Security and extending its solvency by raising taxes on the rich.

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