Republicans are never going to be known for their eco-friendliness, but there is one thing they are very good at recycling: plots that combine ending Social Security and Medicare with schemes to cut taxes for the rich. They’re at it again with a new fiscal blueprint for the next 10 years reconstituted from the stuff they’ve been scraping up for the last few decades. The Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus in the GOP with around 175 members, just released what they’re calling a budget.
This is not the official 2024 Republican budget—there isn’t one, and while this group has the majority of the Republicans in it, it is not an actual congressional committee that has power to do anything. But this is what the majority of Republicans think should happen: cutting Social Security and Medicare and slashing domestic spending programs to the bone.
Their plan starts with raising the retirement age from the current age of 67 to 69, but wouldn’t kick in until people now aged 59 retire. They’d have to wait three months longer to retire than under the current system. The wait increases incrementally until the people who are now 52 years old retire. They—and everyone younger—would have to work until they turn 69 to get full benefits. Republicans don’t want to risk alienating seniors now, so they’re going after Gen X.
That’s a benefit cut, any way you slice it, for future retirees. “These changes would transform Social Security from an earned insurance benefit, which replaces wages lost in the event of old age, disability, or death, into a subsistence-level welfare benefit,” says Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works.
The plan resurrects the old Paul Ryan Medicare voucher scheme, calling it “premium support.” As Altman explains it, seniors would be forced to “fend for themselves on the open market with nothing but a coupon to offset as much of the cost of the insurance that they can find.”
Meanwhile, the 2017 GOP Tax Scam, with its “eye-popping payouts for CEOs,” would be made permanent. It’s set to expire in 2025. Enough said.
The White House was quick to respond:
That’s true. In addition to ending Social Security and Medicare as we know it, the Republicans would roll back the new authority Medicare has for negotiating lower drug prices and to force drug makers to curtail price increases. They also want to repeal the cap on insulin costs for Medicare enrollees. Yes, Republicans are the party of unaffordable insulin.
These are the same Republicans who booed and hissed at President Joe Biden in his State of the Union speech for telling the truth about their plot against Social Security and Medicare. The same Republicans who cheered and leapt to their feet when Biden asked them to “stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.”
No one expected that to last, to be honest. It kept the programs out of the debt ceiling negotiations, which was great. But they’re never going to give up their goal of destroying the social safety net. Just like they’re not giving up on cutting taxes, slashing services, and privatizing whatever remains for personal profit. It’s all they got.
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