List of Republicans Who Have Suggested Cutting Medicare, Social Security

By James Bickerton

Clockwise from top left: Senators Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson. During his 2023 State of the Union speech, President Joe Biden said: “Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.”
DREW ANGERER/GETTY; ANNA MONEYMAKER/GETTY; ANNA ROSE LAYDEN/GETTY; GREG NASH/AFP/GETTY

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden was heckled by several Republican politicians after claiming “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.”

In response to his remark, a number of Republican lawmakers were heard saying “no,” House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene shouted “liar” and Speaker Kevin McCarthy could be seen shaking his head.

“Let me give you—anybody who doubts it contact my office. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal,” Biden said.

The president appeared to be referencing a plan released last year by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, then chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which would introduce a five-year sunset clause for all federal legislation. Thus, Medicare and Social Security would have to be regularly renewed in order to remain law.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell later insisted the plan “will not be part” of his party’s legislative agenda.

After Biden’s address had finished former President Donald Trump gave a surprisingly rosy appraisal of his performance, saying he should get “credit for trying” and “ended up the evening far stronger than he began” on his Truth Social website.

Notably, Trump, who has announced he will run again for president in 2024, has come out firmly against Medicare or Social Security funding cuts. Last month, he said in a video message: “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.”

Newsweek has compiled a list of prominent Republicans who have previously either explicitly, or implicitly, called for cuts to Medicare or Social Security payments.

Mitch McConnell

Speaking in October 2018, McConnell called “entitlements,” a term usually deployed to describe welfare payments like Medicare and Social Security, “the real drivers of the debt,” adding they need to be adjusted “to the demographics of America in the future.”

McConnell also described the GOP’s failure on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, as “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”

Ron Johnson

In August, Republican Senator Ron Johnson suggested Medicare and Social Security should cease being federal entitlement programs, and instead require approval every year as “discretionary spending.”

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