Sen. Bill Cassidy ripped President Biden on Thursday for ignoring multiple requests by lawmakers to engage in bipartisan negotiations to save Social Security.
Mr. Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, said the White House’s stance was contrary to Mr. Biden’s public claims of being ready to work with Congress on protecting the retirement program.
“A bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly requested to meet with [Mr. Biden] about Social Security so that somebody who is a current beneficiary will not see her benefits cut by 24%,” Mr. Cassidy said. “We have not heard anything [about] our request. We’ve made multiple requests to meet with the president.”
The accusation came during a heated hearing of the Senate Finance Committee with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Ms. Yellen told the panel that Mr. Biden stood ready to work with Congress on fixing Social Security, which is slated to run out of money by 2032.
“He cares very deeply,” said Ms. Yellen. “He stands ready to work with Congress.”
Mr. Cassidy characterized the claim as a “lie.” He’s leading a bipartisan group of senators crafting legislation to address Social Security’s funding problem.
Lawmakers, including independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, are weighing options such as raising the retirement age, refiguring annual cost of living adjustments for benefits, and broadening the way Social Security is financed.
The Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate is that Social Security will be unable to pay full retirement and survivor benefits beginning in 2032. The program faces a shortfall as the U.S. population ages and birth rates remain low.
If Washington does nothing, Social Security benefits will automatically be slashed by 20% — resulting in a $12,000 to $17,000 benefit cut for a retired couple.
Democrats for years have accused Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare. As of late, they base the claim on a proposal last year by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that would have required all federal programs to be renewed every five years or risk expiration.
The Scott plan was dismissed as unrealistic by GOP lawmakers from the outset. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pledged to marshal opposition against the proposal if it ever got a vote in Congress.
GOP lawmakers say Mr. Biden’s rhetoric on Social Security does not match his actions.
“Why does the president’s budget not lay out how you would protect Social Security?” said Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah Republican. “We have a problem with Social Security. We need to address it.”
Mr. Biden’s budget proposed billions to finance new and existing federal programs. To pay for the surge, he wants $5.5 trillion in tax hikes. Missing from the budget were taxes or spending increases to help Social Security remain solvent.
• Haris Alic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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