For two weeks, the Biden White House and many of their Democratic allies have eagerly pointed to Republican hostility toward Social Security and Medicare. And for two weeks, GOP leaders have tried to assure the public that their party intends to leave the social insurance programs alone, and cuts are “off the table.”
Some of the high-profile Republicans eyeing the 2024 presidential race aren’t exactly helping their party’s congressional leadership. The Daily Beast reported on former Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance yesterday on Fox News:
Former Vice President Mike Pence became the latest prominent Republican to propose sunsetting Social Security and Medicare on Thursday, telling Fox News that “we can replace the New Deal with a better deal.” ... Pence said it was time to talk “about reforming entitlements” during the current debt ceiling negotiations. “I think we can replace the New Deal programs with a better deal,” he declared.
As part of the same on-air appearance, Pence went on to suggest he supports allowing millions of younger American workers “to invest a portion of their Social Security in a private savings account.”
He’s hardly alone. Former Ambassador Nikki Haley, who launched a Republican presidential campaign this week, sat down with NBC News’ Craig Melvin this week and said she also wants “a new system“ of social insurance programs for younger American workers. This dovetailed with her previous rhetoric about targeting Social Security and Medicare.
We don't yet know the details of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024 plans, but the Florida Republican also endorsed privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and his congressional voting record leaves him vulnerable to obvious Democratic criticisms.
Meanwhile, plenty of other prominent GOP voices eyeing the White House race — including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — voted for a far-right budget plan during their U.S. House tenures that, among other things, would’ve largely replaced Medicare.
In the meantime, there’s a certain former president — I believe his name is Donald Trump — who’s trying to position himself as a champion of the popular social insurance programs, despite his own highly problematic record on the issue, including putting Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table in January 2020.
If Democrats were writing the script for these Republicans, it’d probably look pretty similar to this.