Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Of Biden's Finest Moment

Lauren Boebert was "seriously disappointed" by President Joseph Robinette's State of the Union address.

She has reason to be. There were a few issues Biden did not handle particularly well but his segment on the two most popular entitlement programs- Social Security and Medicare- was a tour de force.  Amid cheers from Democrats and jeers and various expressions of disapproval from Republicans, Biden stated

Let’s commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned.

Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage — I get it — unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what those plans are.

Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans, want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I’m not saying it’s the majority.

Let me give you — anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy — I’ll give you a copy of the proposal. That means Congress doesn’t vote — I’m glad to see — no, I tell you, I enjoy conversion.

You know, it means if Congress doesn’t keep the programs the way they are, they go away.

Other Republicans say — I’m not saying it’s a majority of you, I don’t even think it’s even a significant — but it’s being proposed by individuals. I’m not — politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some of you.

Look, folks, the idea is that we’re not going to be — we’re not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don’t respond.

Folks — so folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be — all right. We’ve got unanimity.

Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors. Americans have to pay into them from the very first paycheck they started.

So tonight, let’s all agree — and we apparently are — let’s stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.

Those benefits belong to the American people. They earned it.

And if anyone tries to cut Social Security, which apparently no one’s going to do, and if anyone tries to cut Medicare, I’ll stop them. I’ll veto it. And look, I’m not going to allow them to take away — be taken away.

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. But apparently it’s not going to be a problem.

Not now, it's not.  In the video below, Representative Boebert can be seen claiming the President "lied about Republicans wanting to cut Medicare and Social Security. We made it very clear tonight that is off the table." President Biden had noted "some Republicans want Social Security and Medicare to sunset. I'm not saying it's the majority."  A moment later, he even conceded "I don’t even think it’s even a significant — but it’s being proposed by individuals."

Those individuals would include Wisconsin Senator Ron "Moscow" Johnson, who in a podcast last summer

suggested that Social Security and Medicare be transformed into programs whose budgets are appropriated by Congress on an annual basis. He pointed out that budgets for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are approved as discretionary spending.

“What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it’s all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt,” Johnson said. “As long as things are on automatic pilot, we just continue to pile up debt.”

More radically, Utah Senator Mike Lee, in remarks he had made at a campaign event in 2010 and revealed in a video resurfacing last year, had stated (at 2:48 of the video below)

I'm here right now to tell you one thing you probably have not heard from a politician: It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up from the roots and get rid of it.  People who advise me politically always tell me it's dangerous and I tell them "In that case, it's not worth my running.' That's why I'm doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Social Security are of the same sort, they need to be pulled up.


That seems pretty clear, but more significantly- and in line with Johnson's position-

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Wednesday defended his proposal to sunset all federal legislation after five years and slammed President Biden as “confused” in response to Biden’s claim at the State of the Union address that some Republicans want to sunset Social Security and Medicare.

“In my plan, I suggested the following: All federal legislation sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” Scott said in a statement following Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress. 

Scott last year rankled Republicans when he rolled out a 12-point policy agenda that included the sunset proposal, which Democrats promptly began using as ammunition in the midterms.

“This is clearly and obviously an idea aimed at dealing with all the crazy new laws our Congress has been passing of late,” Scott added, denying Biden’s claim Tuesday evening that Republicans want to end Social Security and Medicare. 

Biden said that “instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” eliciting loud boos from GOP lawmakers in the chamber. 

Some House Republicans have floated the idea of reforms to entitlement programs as part of debt ceiling negotiations, though Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and others insist cuts aren’t on the table.

Speaking over the raucous response, the president insisted, “Anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I’ll give you a copy — I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.”

“It is being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some of you,” Biden said. 

That barb infuriated Scott, the former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who called the claim “a lie” and “a dishonest move … from a very confused president.” 

“I will not be intimidated by Joe Biden twisting my words,” he declared and pushed back by arguing that Democrats effectively cut Medicare when they gave the federal government power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices in the Inflation Reduction Act.

This was a position Scott advocated as the chairman of the NRSC. Nonetheless, he accuses Biden of twisting his words while Scott acknowledged that he proposed "that all federal legislation sunset(s) in five years. So he quotes his own report proposing exactly what the President maintained (some) Republicans want to do, a magnificent self-own.

Late last month, Kevin "don't call me Joe" McCarthy was asked on Face the Nation whether he would "consider any reductions to Social Security and Medicare" and responded "No. Let's take those off the table."

Nevertheless, when a few details of the secret deal negotiated by McCarthy to win the vote to become Speaker leaked, Vox's Andrew Prokop reported

McCarthy commits that House Republicans will create a plan for a balanced federal budget within 10 years, including “long-term reforms” to mandatory spending programs (entitlements like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid), as well as capping discretionary spending where it was during the first fiscal year of the Biden administration.

The long-term reforms pledged by McCarthy certainly sound like an effort to reduce outlays for Social Security and Medicare benefits over the long term. On Face the Nation, McCarthy, agreeing to take reductions "off the table," was probably referring to immediate cuts to appear in the upcoming budget. However, he was not foreclosing the likelihood of those "long-term reforms" in earned benefits, or what Republicans like to label "entitlements."

"Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever," the President vowed.  The GOP knows not to advocate reductions in benefits for today's senior citizens because old people vote.  But they've been talking for decades about "strengthening" or "protecting" those pesky "entitlements," which to everyone involved in the issue is shorthand for pulling the rug out from under future beneficiaries.

Whether Lauren Boebert is aware of the recent politics surrounding the matter, and thus intentionally deceptive, or is merely a useful idiot is undetermined. But taking a knife to the programs long has been on the Republican's wish list, a little less attainable after Tuesday's State of the Union address.


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