House GOP’s Scalise Defends Medicare, Social Security Plans | National

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the number two Republican in the House, defended his party’s approach to Medicare and Social Security, which became a campaign issue ahead of the U.S. election in mid-term in November.

It’s a mistake to say the GOP is considering “cutting” the programs, Scalise said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s not something we offered,” he said. “We proposed to strengthen and consolidate health insurance and social security.”

He noted that under current law, the trust funds for both programs will become insolvent and will be forced to cut benefits. Medicare faces insolvency in 2028 and Social Security in 2035 according to program administrators.

Scalise is a member of the largest House GOP caucus, the Republican Review Committee, which has proposed changes that would lower benefits for some future recipients. Scalise’s office said in an email that it did not specifically sign off on the RSC plan, however. His office underscored the GOP’s commitment to America, backed by the entire Republican caucus, which says only that the party plans to “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

Avoiding program insolvency would require reducing expenditures, increasing revenues, or a combination of both.

The RSC proposal would gradually raise the eligibility ages for both programs and slow the growth of benefits for high-income Social Security earners. Medicare would move to a new model where seniors would receive premium subsidies to purchase a government-run public option or private insurance.

Some Democrats have proposed raising payroll taxes on the wealthy to deal with the threat of insolvency, without making changes to eligibility or benefit growth.

In interviews with the Bloomberg government this month, leading Republicans said they plan to leverage the need to raise the US debt ceiling next year to demand changes to Medicare solvency and social Security.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., renewed the Democrats’ attack line on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“Are you going to support a party that wants to give more tax breaks to the rich, cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, or are you going to support people willing to stand up for working people? said the Vermont senator.

“Now, I’m not here to tell you that Democrats are perfect — trust me, they’re not,” he said. “But on virtually every issue, including climate change, the choice is pretty clear.”

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