Last February I posted about self-styled Leninist Steve Bannon’s interview with Congressman Ben Cline after President Biden’s latest State of the Union address.
Bannon began the interview by claiming that President Biden’s assertion that some Republicans want to cut Social Security is a “bald-faced lie.” (It’s not.)
Cline replied: “We have to put out a balanced budget that preserves and protects Social Security and Medicare and does not go after those essential programs.”
Bannon then asked: “What are your constituents telling you after they heard the State of the Union?”
Cline said: “They’re furious and so am I.”
He continued: “[Biden] baits us by saying, ‘Oh you all want to cut Social Security and Medicare.’ Well, of course we’re going to object in the middle of his speech…When somebody lies to your face, you’re gonna tell them they’re lying to their face. And that’s what we did during the State of the Union.”
But Biden was not lying. Cline proved it when he helped engineer a plan to cut Social Security and weaken Medicare.
The largest bloc of House conservatives offered up a fiscal blueprint Wednesday that promises to balance the federal budget in seven years, make GOP tax cuts permanent, and slash domestic spending.
The plan offered by the 175-member Republican Study Committee would gradually raise the age at which future retirees can start claiming full Social Security benefits from 67 to 69, a politically fraught proposal that’s all but certain to appear in Democratic campaign ads.
The document also proposes a “premium support” plan that would subsidize private insurance options that compete with traditional Medicare. That would be similar to budget plans proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., during his tenure in Congress that were panned by Democrats and some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.
“The RSC budget would implement common-sense policies to prevent the impending debt disaster, tame inflation, grow the economy, protect our national security, and defund [President Joe] Biden’s woke priorities,” said Virginia Rep. Ben Cline, chairman of the group’s Budget and Spending Task Force.
Cline said the group has proposed gradually raising the Social Security retirement age, but not for current retirees or those nearing retirement. He said those now aged 59 would see an increase in the retirement age of three months per year beginning in 2026. The retirement age would reach 69 for those who turn 62 in 2033.
While any financial fix will require a bipartisan compromise, Cline said, “We are taking action, whereas the White House and Democrats refuse to acknowledge that Social Security and Medicare are facing insolvency.”
Biden and congressional Democrats thus far have focused their efforts to reduce those two programs’ budget shortfalls by reining in Medicare prescription drug costs, and by raising Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes on high-income earners.
As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, workers planning an earlier retirement will see lifetime payouts reduced if the full retirement age is raised.
The impact of all this would fall hardest on older low-income workers doing physically demanding jobs who are more likely to stop work due to health issues– in other words, a large portion of the constituents that Cline purports to represent.
Cline will claim that he only wants to cut benefits for future Social Security recipients. But he needs to be reminded by all of us: a cut is still a cut.
Gene Zitver is the editor of ClineWatch.