Mike Rounds wants Congress to act to protect Social Security and Medicare

Inflation, Prescription Drugs and Energy: The Impact of the First Two Years in the U.S. Economy, as Described by the Americans in Congress

Over the past nearly two years, we have made enormous progress. My administration, working with Democrats in Congress, is building an economy that grows from the bottom up and middle out.

The unemployment rate is 3.5% – a 50-year low. We’ve created 10 million jobs, including almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs. I have watched “Made in America” become a reality on my watch.

We have more work to do. The global challenge of inflation is caused by the Pandemic and the war in Ukraine. I know a lot of people have a job and are still struggling to pay for groceries, gas and rent. I want to lower costs for families.

I’m working to reduce the burden on working- and middle-class people by bringing down the costs of everyday things they need for their families, such as health care premiums, prescription drugs and energy bills. The Inflation Reduction Act was passed with no Republican votes to lower health care premiums for 13 million Americans or lower prescription drug prices for seniors.

Gas prices are decreasing because of the actions we have taken. They fell another 10 cents this week, and have fallen nearly a dollar since their peak this summer. That’s adding up to real savings for families.

Republicans in Congress are against trickle-down economics that benefit the wealthy and corporations. They clearly laid out their plan. It would raise your costs and make inflation worse.

Many Republicans in Congress are calling to roll back these provisions that lower prescription drug costs – some of which take effect in January. That means the $2,000 cap on prescription drugs for seniors would be gone. The $35-a-month cap on insulin for seniors would be gone. The average savings on health care premiums of $800 a year for millions of Americans would be gone. Republicans would raise those costs.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/25/opinions/american-people-face-a-choice-joe-biden/index.html

Do we live in a democracy without a minimum? The last 17 years of the American civil libertarian revolution against anti-demolition

Democratic Party members are trying to make the big corporations pay their share of taxes. In 2020, 55 of the wealthiest corporations in America paid zero dollars in federal income tax. No longer. I signed a law to impose a minimum tax. And, I’m keeping my campaign commitment: no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a single penny more in federal taxes.

On Friday afternoon, the day after McConnell told a Kentucky radio station that Scott’s proposal will be a “challenge” for Scott’s own 2024 re-election campaign in a state with a large population of seniors, Scott announced he is introducing a new bill that would make it more difficult for Congress to make any cuts to Social Security and Medicare and that would send the Inflation Reduction Act’s $80 billion in Internal Revenue Service funding to Social Security and Medicare instead.

The fact is, this is not your father’s Republican party: Many Republicans in Congress want to pass a national ban on abortion. I would veto it, if we retain the House and more Senate Democrats do so, I can codify it in January.

Democracy is being put to the test in America. We are learning what every generation has to learn: nothing about democracy is guaranteed. You have to keep defending it. Protect it. Choose it.

I’m absolutely confident that, just as they did in 2020, the American people will again vote in record numbers and make it clear that democracy is a value that both defines us and unites us as Americans.

We faced some tough challenges over the last few years, but we did not give up. I am more sure about our future than ever before. Fourteen days from now, the American people will decide if they should move forward or back.

Are Social Security, Medicare, and the $Lambda$CDM gone? The Phenomenology of the Repubs

Republicans want to tie the raising of the ceiling to certain kinds of spending cuts. Even if Kevin McCarthy says he won’t make changes to Social Security or Medicare, it’s almost impossible to not think they are on the table. What’s your recommendation?

Bret: Well, the Republicans’ current strategy has all the intelligence of Foghorn Leghorn, the Looney Tunes rooster: They’re trying to play a game of chicken with the Biden administration when, deep down, they know they’re the ones who are going to chicken out. It would be economically destructive and politically suicidal to let the federal government default on its debt. We will probably go through this sham until there are enough Republicans to break ranks and vote for raising the debt ceiling.

Bret: Other than trying to find ways to slow the rate of spending growth, I can’t imagine there would be cuts to either program. They are also popular with Republican voters. There is no way anything will happen other than on a bipartisan basis. Suggestions for fixes that aren’t large tax increases.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/30/opinion/mass-shootings-police-brutality-debt-ceiling.html

Rep. Gregory Mace: I wouldn’t want to see a tax increase on the job of a cop to keep people from coming home

Gail: Well, some people may regard this as a tax increase, but I want to propose some tax fairness. Social Security payroll taxes stop at about $160,000. So a person making a million dollars a year doesn’t pay anything on about $840,000.

Gail: Bret, I spent a lot of my early career — way back in the ’70s — hanging out with the chief of police in New Haven, Ed Morrone, who was just so smart. He told my husband Dan, who was a police reporter then, that the most important job of a cop was “to keep people who hate one another apart.”

While McCarthy has not settled on any individual proposal and is unlikely to make a specific offer at the Wednesday meeting, he and other House Republicans are roundly rejecting the White House’s position to raise the borrowing limit without strings attached, even as it was suspended three times when Donald Trump was president and is intended to pay for bills already incurred.

The challenge for McCarthy will be balancing the interests of House Republicans eager to use their leverage on the debt ceiling to pass priorities that would be ignored by the White House and the Senate, as well as finding a deal with Democrats who would be seen as caving into their demands. Hanging over all of it is the ability to vote against McCarthy in the speakership.

It could take the nation to the verge of a potential default, especially since some of the positions against raising the limit seem intractable.

When asked by CNN if he would vote for a debt ceiling increase if all his priorities were taken into account, Indiana Republican Rep. Gregory Pence said, “No.” “That’s what I hear back home.”

Republican defense hawks and appropriators will protect defense spending even though they will limit the pool of money for discretionary programs.

There are always a few who will vote no on everything. So expect those people to exist,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican. That is why it is important to negotiate. We need to act in a way that is acceptable to all of us.

Speaking to CBS on Sunday, McCarthy promised to take Social Security and Medicare cuts “off the table.” And he left open the possibility of cuts to defense programs, saying: “I want to make sure we’re protected in our defense spending, but I want to make sure it’s effective and efficient.”

Social Security takes up 21% of the $5.8 trillion that the government spent in the last fiscal year, while health care programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program account for 25% of the budget. The remainder of the budget goes to domestic programs such as defense and national security.

A conservative crew met on Friday and Monday to come up with ideas for spending cuts that could lead to a balanced budget within 10 years, and will unveil a vision in the coming weeks according to a member involved in the talks.

Ringleaders of the group like Rep. Chip Roy of Texas have been in regular communication with McCarthy, and the group wants to meet with GOP leaders and House Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington of Texas as discussions intensify.

The blueprints of what the House will fight for will be in the works, a member of the Freedom Caucus told CNN. Not touching Social Security, not touching Medicare, every agency is being looked at on discretionary. We will put it out for the American people. It will shock people. … I think people will like what they see.

The Problem Solvers Caucus: A proposal to raise the debt ceiling and take control of runaway spending without losing the children in the room

I want the kids in the room. We’ve got two things that could be a crisis,” Massie told reporters. “Take that off the table. … It would give you the time and space, and it would take the pressure off.”

McCarthy is trying to build a consensus on what to propose in exchange for raising the borrowing limit while some appropriators acknowledge they may not be able to vote.

“I will be either the beneficiary, or victim, of however that comes out, because we will be getting a (topline spending number) for my subcommittee,” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, told CNN. I will be directly affected.

I think most people in this camp are not going to default. The credit of the country is important according to a member of the House Budget Committee. “But just to say we’re going to raise the debt ceiling without any spending restraint is just not an acceptable outcome.”

Massie said one idea he has been advocating for is passing a continuing resolution “as soon as possible” that funds the government at 99% of its current levels and pairs it with a debt ceiling increase, just so they have a backup plan in case they are unable to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling or funding the government.

Others are considering contingency plans of their own. The Problem Solvers Caucus is trying to set a ratio for allowable debt to the country’s GDP and come up with a plan for budget cuts if the ratio isn’t fixed. The group is consulting outside budget experts to help draft the proposal.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican involved in that effort, said that their plan would be a fallback in case talks between the White House and McCarthy collapse.

The statement is reminiscent of a push by White House officials and congressional Democrats to force the Republicans to come up with a plan.

Bates was referencing McCarthy’s appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where the California Republican said he wanted “to find a reasonable and responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling, but take control of this runaway spending.”

McCarthy pledges that he will work to unify the Republicans behind a proposal while still working for negotiations, which could be seen as a window into complex political dynamics as they press for negotiations.

White House officials have closely monitored and responded to the House Republican preferences that they see as non-starters in policy and politics.

It is not certain whether the House Republicans can find 218 votes to raise the debt ceiling due to the opposition of some in the conference.

The state of the union: Where are we going? The fact-check of biden’s attempt to phase out Social Security, Medicare, and other social security programs

Still, the focus on Medicare and Social Security even as McCarthy has moved to take changes off the table underscores the view inside the White House of the political salience of the programs.

The White House does not want to see structural changes, so they frame Strengthening the programs as a way of opposing them. That is now a central line of attack in the debate that is still in its early stages with the potential for dramatic consequences to come.

“Last night, I reported on the State of the Union: It is strong, it is strong,” Biden told the room of union workers at a LiUNA training facility in DeForest, Wisconsin, reiterating much of his economic messaging and highlighting key legislative accomplishments.

The social safety net argument with Republicans was one of the highlights of Bidens speech on Tuesday, and he made clear that he was willing to continue the fight as he hit the road. The argument highlighted Biden’s attempts to shift his message away from the “extreme MAGA” and “mega-MAGA” talking points of the 2022 midterm election.

The Republican senators have responded forcefully, accusing Biden of deceiving the public about where they stand. Here is a fact-check of the exchanges.

A senator named Mike Lee was yelling, ‘liar, liar, house of fire’, last night. … I didn’t know about it, but they played a video of him saying that it would be his goal to phase out Social Security.

The Conversation Between Paul Biden and the Maga Republicans: A Brief History of his 2012 Congressman and a Critical View of PBS NewsHour

PBS NewsHour asked if he was expecting the kind of reception he got in the House chamber after Biden spoke near Madison.

Biden said he was from the people that did it. “The vast of majority of Republicans weren’t that way, but you know, there’s still a significant element of what I call the ‘MAGA Republicans.’”

As for last night’s “conversion” of some Republicans, he offered skepticism during his speech: “I sure hope that’s true. I will believe it when I see the budget they’re proposing. But looks like we negotiated a deal last night on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

Earlier in the speech, Biden attempted to make a broader argument for working together with GOP lawmakers, touting the successes of his first two years in office.

“People sent us a clear message: Fighting for the sake of fighting gets us nowhere. We’re getting things done,” he said, before going on to draw clear arguments against his Republican colleagues.

And he again called on Congress to raise the nation’s debt limit during his earlier remarks, warning against the “chaos” he said Republicans are “suggesting.”

Biden also fired back at a television commentator he heard aboard Air Force One lamenting his focus on junk fees: “Junk fees may not matter to the wealthy people, but they matter of most folks like the home I grew up in. They add hundreds of dollars a month to make it harder to pay your bills or afford that family trip. I know how unfair it feels to be over charged by a company and think they can get away with it.

A CNN KFile review of comments from DeSantis’ 2012 congressional campaign found he repeatedly said he supported plans to replace Medicare with a system in which the government paid for partial costs of private plans or a traditional Medicare plan. In an interview, he said he was in favor of restructureing Social Security and cited the need for market forces.

I support what Ryan is trying to do with entitlements. He said that it was not a voucher but premium support. “You get a plan and can supplement it with your own income.”

“I would embrace proposals like [Rep.] Paul Ryan offered, and other people have offered, that are going to provide some market forces in there, more consumer choice, and make it so that it’s not just basically a system that’s just going to be bankrupt when you have new people coming into it,” DeSantis told the St. Augustine Record in a video that was posted on YouTube at the time.

At the time, DeSantis was a Tea Party fiscal conservative, running with the backing of conservative groups like Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, and the Madison Project.

If he wants to run for president in 2024, DeSantis has yet to announce or mention his position on entitlement programs as Florida’s governor, preferring to focus on culture war issues.

The president was in Florida on Thursday to reiterate his support for Medicare and Social Security in a state that uses them more than any other. The Florida visit of Biden will allow him to take up the cause of Rick Scott and the plan to kill Social Security and medicare every five years, according to a senior White House advisor.

“I think people who are low income will probably be given coverage that is similar to what they have now,” he said in the interview with the St. Augustine Record. It doesn’t make sense that I would have to pay more since I’ve been successful. Premium support will guarantee me a certain amount of coverage.

“If you want something over and above that, if you want a Cadillac plan or something, then I do think it should be driven by the consumer rather than imposed on the taxpayers,” he added. “And I just think that that makes sense.”

“What I think we need to do for people in my generation particularly, is start to restructure the program, in a way that’s gonna be financially sustainable, both Social Security and Medicare,” he added.

After getting elected, one of DeSantis’ first interviews as a newly sworn-in member was on CNN on January 4, 2013, where he said he hoped Congress would take on restructuring entitlements when asked about Social Security and Medicare.

Some Republican senators, including Sen. Rick Scott of Florida and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have been identified by Biden and the White House as being part of a plan to undermine the retirement and health care programs.

The videos are authentic, though Biden didn’t tell his Wednesday speech audience in Wisconsin they are from more than 12 years ago – an event in 2010, when Lee was running for the Senate but before he was first elected. And as Lee noted in Wednesday tweets responding to Biden, Biden didn’t mention that Lee added at the same 2010 event that current Medicare beneficiaries should have their benefits “left untouched” and that “the next layer beneath them, those who will retire in the next few years, also probably have to be held harmless.”

Scott has said cutting the entitlement programs wasn’t his intent in the plan, called the charge “false” and a “lie” and accused Biden of having proposed similar things about federal programs in the past.

Biden may have created an inaccurate impression by mentioning the sunset proposal in his discussion of the debt ceiling in the State of the Union. It is not clear whether the House Republicans are pushing this proposal or not, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has made it clear cuts to Social Security and Medicare are not on the table in the debt ceiling negotiations.

The White House said the president ran on protecting medicare and social security from cuts in the state of the union. “He’s been very clear these past couple of years. … The president does not have any plans for a bill from the 1970s.

Biden castigated Johnson for saying a year ago that Medicare and Social Security should be treated as discretionary spending, rather than as permanent entitlements, and this week in numerous previous speeches.

It’s impossible to definitively fact-check this particular dispute without Johnson specifying how he wants to “fix” and “save” the program. His office did not respond to a CNN request for comment.

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates noted in an email to reporters on Thursday that, though Johnson accused Biden this week of lying about his stance on Social Security, Johnson also said in interviews this week that Social Security is a “legal Ponzi scheme” and that “Social Security might be in a more stable position for younger workers” if the government had proceeded with Republican President George W. Bush’s controversial and eventually abandoned proposal in the mid-2000s to allow workers born after 1949 to divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts in which they could buy into the stock market and make other investments.

Scott, who was a freshman senator, said on CNN that Biden had a bill in 1975. “It says, it requires every program to be looked at freshly every four years, not just cost but worthiness.”

“When I pointed out to them that some of them were talking about the idea of eliminating Medicare, they all said no, no, no,” Biden said. “I said, ‘OK’.” Are you all for supporting Medicare? Everybody raise your hand.’ They all raised their hand. Guess what? We accomplished something. Unless they break their word. There will be no cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

How Republicans handle themselves in the next year could determine the depth of what kind of foil Biden has in this group during his expected run for president — as the fight for which party is most in touch with the American people plays out.

If Congress fails to take action, the future of Social Security could be in danger according to South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds.

We have to have a better plan in place in the next 11 years. We are going to see some reductions of up to 26% in some sort of benefit. So, let’s start talking now because it’s easier to fix it now that it would be five years or six years from now,” Rounds told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Scott told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins last week that his proposal is intended to eliminate wasteful spending and help ensure the government can “figure out how to start living within our means.”

There are possibilities for long term success that are not scaring people or tearing apart the system, but there is a way to do that. But it requires management. And it requires actually looking at and making things better,” he said.

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