Republicans were outraged—OUTRAGED!—Tuesday night when President Joe Biden accused them of trying to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare. How dare he! How in the world could they possibly do such a dastardly thing?
You don’t have to believe President Biden. Take it from Mitch McConnell. Or from Fox News. Yes, Scott’s dystopian plan for America would end everything—including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid after five years. Then Congress would have to renew it. Tell me Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul are going to vote to reinstate the programs after they expire.
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Speaking of Mike Lee:
“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in 2010. That seems pretty darned clear.
Then there’s Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who wants to put these programs up for cuts every single year.
What about Sen. Lindsey Graham, who promised the programs would be on the chopping block if the GOP won a Senate majority in 2022.
Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a similar promise last fall, escalating it to tie “reform” of these programs to any agreement on the debt ceiling. “Our main focus has got to be on nondiscretionary—it’s got to be on entitlements,” Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) argued, insisting they had to be on the table in debt ceiling negotiations. McCarthy embraced that approach.
So, yeah, Biden had them dead to rights Tuesday night. “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 want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” Biden said.
The trap was set, and every single damned one of the Republicans walked right into it, booing and yelling and objecting to the very idea.
“I’m glad to see, I’m telling you, I enjoy conversion,” Biden quipped. “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’m not even saying it’s a significant number, but it’s being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some.”
More outrage! Then he snapped the door of that trap shut behind them. “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books, right?” Loud cheers.
“We’ve got unanimity!” Biden exclaimed. “So tonight, let’s all agree—and apparently we are—to stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.”
Which is exactly what they all did. They literally gave Biden a standing ovation for backing them into the corner of promising not to cut Social Security and Medicare. On national television, in front of God and everybody.
Sarah Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and prominent never-Trumper. Her podcast, The Focus Group, is a peek at the thousands of hours of focus groups she has conducted all across the country. Sarah comes on to give her thoughts about the state of the current Republican Party and why its future remains bleak.