Entitlement reform has been a top policy item for those in charge of fiscal health, but the political cost of discussing it is too high for politicians to bear.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and was a leader in a bipartisan working group for Social Security reform, noted that President Biden made it clear he isn’t interested in any proposals to ensure the sustainability of Social Security.
Previous Presidents have attempted entitlement reform such as President Clinton’s efforts to extend Medicare life during his administration and former President Obama’s attempts to improve Social Security finances by changing certain cost-of-living metrics.
However, none have been successful due to strong opposition from Democrats who accuse Republicans of wanting to “gut” entitlements.
This has caused many Republicans including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to swear them off entirely. According to Cassidy, Biden is simply using this as an election tool against Republicans and Trump also failed to pay attention “at all” when he was president.
This shift away from entitlement reform can be largely credited with former President Trump bringing blue-collar workers into the Republican base who are more reliant on Social Security and Medicare today than ever before.
Paul Winfree notes that these same people were in their prime working years when budgets were balanced so it doesn’t make sense why there needs to be cuts now while Maya MacGuineas points out that both Trump and Biden have promised not touch these programs which may become a huge detriment for those dependent upon them.
With both parties unwilling or uninterested in doing something about this issue now, this could lead to serious consequences down the road if nothing changes – meaning a 24% cut in benefits once the trust fund runs out of money if no action is taken soon.
As Fox Business reported:
“You just open yourself up to potshots,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told Fox News Digital about the idea of pushing for entitlement reform. “Politically, it is a losing position.”
Cassidy is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. This year, he was also a leader in a bipartisan working group for a proposal to extend the life of Social Security – which projections say could be insolvent by 2033.
However, he said President Biden has made it clear he is not interested in even bipartisan proposals to ensure the sustainability of Social Security.
“You have to have a president who’s engaged in order to accomplish any of this,” Cassidy said. “And if we have a president as we do now, who doesn’t want to do anything – Oh, he makes the right comments, but when you look at his proposals, they’re not serious – then there’s no reason to do anything.”
Former President Clinton took steps to extend the life of Medicare during his administration. His successor, former President George W. Bush, made Social Security reform efforts a core pillar. Even former President Obama attempted to improve Social Security finances by changing certain cost-of-living metrics.
Now, Cassidy stands among the few on Capitol Hill calling for active measures to extend the solvency of core entitlements, specifically Social Security. Democrat-fueled accusations that Republicans wanted to gut Social Security and Medicare during debt limit negotiations were so potent, that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy swore they were off the table at the time.