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Ben Cline, once again, taking on Social Security, Medicare benefits for future retirees

Gene Zitver
ben cline
(© lev radin – Shutterstock)

In case anyone didn’t take him seriously last year, Sixth District Congressman Ben Cline has just reaffirmed his commitment to slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits for future retirees.

And, as you can see, he did it with a smile on his face.

Cline is a leading member of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 170 House GOP lawmakers, which released these proposals and others on Wednesday. Cline chairs the RSC’s Budget and Spending Task Force.

NBC News reports:

For Social Security, the budget endorses “modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees to account for increases in life expectancy.” It calls for lowering benefits for the highest-earning beneficiaries….

The new budget also calls for converting Medicare to a “premium support model,” echoing a proposal that Republican former Speaker Paul Ryan had rallied support for. Under the new RSC plan, traditional Medicare would compete with private plans and beneficiaries would be given subsidies to shop for the policies of their choice. The size of the subsidies could be pegged to the “average premium” or “second lowest price” in a particular market, the budget says.

The plan became a flashpoint in the 2012 election, when Ryan was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, and President Barack Obama charged that it would “end Medicare as we know it.” Ryan defended it as a way to put Medicare on better financial footing, and most of his party stood by him.

Medicare is projected to become insolvent in 2028, and Social Security will follow in 2033. After that, benefits will be forcibly cut unless more revenues are added.

Biden has blasted Republican proposals for the retirement programs, promising that he will not cut benefits and instead proposing in his recent White House budget to cover the future shortfall by raising taxes on upper earners.

Of course Cline would never stand for that.

Boosting the age to claim Social Security benefits would increase hardship and poverty for older Americans, especially those working physically demanding low-income jobs. That would include a large portion of the people living in Cline’s Sixth Congressional District.

But the threats to Social Security and Medicare are not the only things wrong with this budget.

Apart from fiscal policy, the budget endorses a series of bills “designed to advance the cause of life,” including the Life at Conception Act, which would aggressively restrict abortion and potentially threaten in vitro fertilization, or IVF, by establishing legal protections for human beings at “the moment of fertilization.” It has recently caused consternation within the GOP following backlash to an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that threatened IVF.

The Life at Conception Act wouldn’t just “aggressively restrict” abortion and IVF. It would outlaw them entirely.

Further, according to a White House Fact Sheet, the RSC budget:

  • “Raises Medicare costs for seniors by taking away Medicare’s authority to negotiate prescription drug costs, repealing $35 insulin, and the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap in the Inflation Reduction Act.”
  • “Cuts Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by $4.5 trillion over ten years, taking coverage away from millions of people, eroding care for seniors, children, and people with disabilities, and taking us back to the days where people could be denied care for pre-existing conditions and charged more for health insurance simply for being a woman.”
  • “Passes $5.5 trillion in tax cuts skewed to the wealthy and large corporations, including permanently extending tax cuts in the Trump tax law, repealing the minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations the President signed into law, eliminating the estate tax for the wealthiest Americans, providing a massive tax cut for billionaire investors, and making it easier for the wealthy and large corporations to get away with cheating on their taxes.”

And it wouldn’t be a Republican plan without proposals for fighting pointless culture wars. So the RSC budget includes a long list of legislation aimed at curbing the teaching of “Critical Race Theory.” However that is defined.

I have no doubt Congressman Cline will be happy to explain and defend these proposals to any constituent who asks.

Gene Zitver is the editor of ClineWatch.