Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) is so intent on cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, he’s annoyed there isn’t a bigger push. But rather than blame his own colleagues, Kennedy blamed President Biden’s “demagoguing.”
We can chalk up Kennedy as the latest Republican to prove President Biden right about Republicans wanting to cut or eliminate Social Security and Medicare, despite their dishonest poutrage and pretense otherwise, including the supposedly devout Ainsley Earhardt (gal pal to election liar Sean Hannity).
Apparently, the new GOP talking point is that cuts are “realistic.” Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream highlighted that term as she cited presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, yet another Republican claiming she wants to cut Social Security and Medicare in order to preserve them.
Bream framed the messaging when she opened the subject, saying, “Entitlements are getting a lot of attention. Republicans have repeatedly said they’re not going to cut them, the White House has repeatedly said you need to be afraid if you’re getting these benefits.” She then played a clip of Haley saying, “We have to be realistic. It is unrealistic to say you’re not going to touch entitlements.”
All the Democrats’ reforms “will mostly mean higher taxes,” Bream added.
Like Haley and House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Jason Smith, Kennedy posed as a supporter of Social Security and Medicare (for Fox’s elderly viewers), even as he obviously itched to cut the programs for younger people.
KENNEDY: Well, I think you ought to get the Social Security that you paid for and I think you ought to get the Medicare that you paid for.
Now, Medicare is going to start getting in trouble financially in 2028. Social Security in 2035, I think. We should be talking now how to make sure that those programs are solvent.
As you’ll soon see, “making sure those programs are solvent” is GOP code for “cuts.”
But first, Kennedy blamed Biden:
KENNEDY: The problem is that President Biden, in his State of the Union address, decided to demagogue the issue. We all saw it. He basically said if you talk - speaking to Republicans - if you talk about Social Security or Medicare, I’m going to call you a mean, bad person and that just took the issue off the table when the president decided to demagogue.
It was, you know, you can only be young once but you can always be immature and I thought it was a very immature thing to do.
Bream did not challenge Kennedy’s claim that Biden is to blame for Republicans’ unwillingness. Instead, she prodded for more talk about cuts.
BREAM: You think there needs to be conversations then about something, whether it’s changing the age for people who are not yet paying into these benefits, future changes, current changes?
KENNEDY: Well, of course we ought to talk about it. I mean, the life expectancy of the average American right now, it’s about 77 years old. For people who are in their 20s, their life expectancy will probably be 85 to 90. Does it really make sense to allow someone who’s in their 20s today to retire at 62? Those are the kind of things that we should talk about.
There are changes in Medicare we should talk about. Let me say it again: Medicare pays much more for the same surgical procedure in a hospital as it does in a private outpatient clinic. Why? There are a lot of things we could talk about but President Biden has taken that issue totally off the table. He says he has fixed it in his budget and that’s nonsense. That’s nonsense on a stick.
You can see Biden proved right again below, from the March 12, 2023 Fox News Sunday.
Unfortunately, the USA has a long history of allowing insurance companies to renege on their contracts when it suits them and I’m sure Sen. Kennedy thinks that the survival of insurance companies takes precedence over that of their clients. The big business bias, again.
The aim of programmes like SS and Medicare is to reduce the risk of people having to apply for welfare when elderly or ill. They are designed to help people be as self-reliant as possible, something that GOPers are always saying that people should do. Their relentless attacks on both programmes carry the stench of rank hypocrisy. As professed Christians, they simply don’t walk the talk.
Kennedy plays the talking point card about “solvency” of Social Security and Medicare and upcoming dates where they may not be able to pay 100% of projected benefits. He leaves out the key information that this “solvency” issue is a creation of the GOP. For the past 20 years, Dems have repeatedly proposed common sense funding adjustments for SS and Medicare – including lifting the cap on applicable income for FICA, expanding the pool of applicable employees, a tiny increase in the employer side of FICA and a tiny increase in the eligibility age. The standard angry Right Wing response has been to stonewall all of that other than increasing the eligibility age and to do so in a much more aggressive manner. The GOP could still take this time to behave like adults for a change and support the common sense adjustments. But they clearly have no intention of doing so.
The angry Right Wing plan for Social Security has been published twice – in 2010 by the Heritage Foundation (and echoed by Cato around the same time), and in late 2022 by the “Republican Study Committee” in the House. This plan involves drastically reducing SS to a $1200/month flat payment, and means-testing to sift out anyone with a decent pension or 401K – which would morph SS into a form of welfare for the indigent elderly, albeit only the indigent elderly who happened to have jobs that paid into FICA. And while Heritage was content to have these new draconian conditions only apply to people who were 25 years old and younger, the “Republican Study Committee” has expressly stated that they want their version of that plan to apply to everyone under the age of 55. Meaning that if the GOP gets its way here, tens of millions of Americans who have paid into FICA for upwards of 30 years will be told they’re only going to see 1/3 of what they paid in, if they see anything at all.
The reason that angry Right Wingers are taking this unfriendly approach is that they’re hoping to really shrink the high popularity that SS and Medicare currently have. The Right Wing has already convinced many Americans that “I’ll never see anything from Social Security” by its constant fear-mongering about it – taking this step would confirm that feeling and make it possible for the GOP to move to completely phase out SS and Medicare, something that has long been a goal of the Right.
Despite Kennedy’s desperate attempt to present himself as “the adult in the room”, the reality is that Kennedy and his fellow GOPers have generated a false dilemma for the direct purpose of motivating unnecessary slashes to these programs.