Republican and Democratic officials preparing to negotiate spending reductions have expressed an unmitigated refusal to involve Social Security in the conversation.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are slated to meet on Wednesday after the debt ceiling, an arbitrary cap on the national debt established by Congress, exceeded the statutory limit of nearly $31.4 trillion. The White House has asserted that lawmakers on the other side of the aisle are attempting to reduce benefits from Social Security, the retirement, disability, and survivor benefit program established during the Great Depression, as well as Medicare, which provides health insurance to older Americans.
“You paid for your Social Security. Every single paycheck from the time you started working,” Biden said on social media. “If Republicans try to cut it, I will veto it.”
McCarthy has meanwhile balked at the suggestion and affirmed that Republicans have no desire to discuss the programs in the forthcoming negotiations. “Let’s take those off the table,” he said in a recent interview. “If you read our Commitment to America, all we talk about is strengthening Medicare and Social Security.”
Social Security, Medicare, and other health initiatives constituted 46% of the federal budget during the last fiscal year, according to data from the Treasury Department. In order to balance the budget while exempting defense, veteran benefits, Social Security, and Medicare from cuts, all other federal spending would have to be reduced 85%, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Tax Foundation Senior Economist Erica York confirmed to The Daily Wire that leaving the two programs untouched would not be possible if officials are serious about restoring fiscal sanity. “If reforms to Social Security and Medicare and raising new revenues are all completely off the table,” she commented, “balancing the budget within the next ten years is an unrealistic goal because it could only be achieved by making infeasibly large cuts to other spending programs.”
Social Security has long been considered the third rail of American politics: the vast majority of survey respondents have historically indicated that they want benefits from the program retained with no reductions, even as nearly half are concerned about continued funding for the program, according to an analysis from Gallup.
Both trust funds managed by Social Security are nevertheless slated to be insolvent by 2035, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. The agency recommended increasing payroll taxes or reducing payouts to avoid a benefit reduction; though the two major parties have floated both courses of action in recent decades, the remarks from Biden and McCarthy indicate that a compromise on Social Security reforms will not even be considered.
“Typically, we’ve seen Democratic proposals focus on increasing the payroll tax for solvency,” York continued, “and Republican proposals focus on the spending side for solvency, such as increasing the retirement age or curbing benefits for high-income earners.”
Republican and Democratic administrations have maintained unsustainable budget deficits and inflated the national debt to more than $31.5 trillion. President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump, and President Joe Biden have each witnessed deficits nearing or surpassing $1 trillion, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget, even during fiscal years that were not affected by stimulus measures intended to address the 2008 financial crisis and the 2020 lockdown-induced recession.