Mike Pence Says Social Security And Medicare Cuts Should Be ‘On The Table’

Screenshot via CNBC

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Former Vice President Mike Pence pushed back on Republican leaders who are refusing to amend Social Security and Medicare, arguing Wednesday that the programs are in need of reform.

“We all know where the real issue is, in terms of long-term debt for the U.S. While I respect the speaker’s commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations, we’ve got to put them on the table in the long term,” Pence told CNBC’s Joe Kernan. “And right now, President Biden’s policy is insolvency. We’re looking at a debt crisis in this country over the next 25 years that is driven by entitlements, and nobody in Washington, D.C. wants to talk about it.”


The Social Security Trust Fund is expected to be depleted by 2034 or 2035, according to the Social Security Administration. When that happens, payouts to retirees will immediately drop by 20 percent absent legislative action. Congress is likely to make up the difference through a combination of hikes to the payroll tax and benefit cuts, economists generally agree. (RELATED: Biden Pledges To Prevent Medicare Cuts—But He’s Cutting Medicare Advantage Right Now)

In addition to pledging not to reform entitlements as part of debt ceiling negotiations, top Republicans have argued against doing so at all. Former President Donald Trump asserted that Congress could cut deficits by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse” from federal programs, while Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that entitlements are “completely off the table.”

As head of the Republican Study Committee, Pence pushed for the creation of private retirement accounts that Americans could pay into rather than the Social Security Trust Fund. He re-upped the proposal in an early February speech to the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly called attention to a proposal from Florida Sen. Rick Scott that would sunset all federal laws five years after they are passed. Scott recently walked back the idea, saying that it would not apply to Social Security or Medicare.

During his State of the Union address, Biden said that “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” drawing jeers from GOP attendees. Other Republicans applauded Biden’s promise not to cut the programs.