As seen by his State of the Union speech, President Joe Biden has a new political weapon to use against Republicans: social security and medicare. Biden made questionable statements about what Republicans in the House and Senate want to do to such programs, but Townhall fact-checked Biden’s claim and discovered that Republicans are virtually uniform in their opposition to the idea of sunsetting Social Security.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a record that resembles the one he is attempting to put on Republicans.
In 1995, as a substantially younger face in Washington, then-Senator Joe Biden advocated for a “freeze” on government outlays, including social security and medicare, among other budget items, in an effort to eliminate all federal programs.
“When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,” Biden hollered at his Senate colleagues in 1995. “I meant Medicare and Medicaid, I meant veterans’ benefits, I meant every single solitary thing in the government,” this entirely foreign fiscally conscious version of Biden continued. “And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.”
"When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well; I meant Medicare and Medicaid; I meant veterans' benefits; I meant every single, solitary thing in the government." — Joe Biden defending the proposed balanced budget amendment, January 1995 pic.twitter.com/5WQ1imljgg
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) May 3, 2019
Four times, eh? That is four more efforts than House Republicans have undertaken since Biden’s inauguration.
As it turns out, Biden’s continuing fight during his time in the Senate was to reduce pensions such as Social Security and Medicare. According to a 2020 campaign article in The Intercept, Biden supported Reagan’s tax cuts and then joined Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) in calling for a freeze on all government expenditure, including social security, despite Reagan’s wish to insulate Social Security from cuts.
Now, now that Biden is in the White House and on the opposite side of the struggle he previously fought so vehemently, perhaps he should shut up about the supposedly unsustainable thought of reducing or freezing Social Security or Medicare, because he has repeatedly done so while Republicans have not.
Biden’s term in the Senate was neither the only or most recent instance in which he negotiated changes to Social Security and other programs. During his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, Biden reiterated that he would “absolutely” consider changes to Social Security and Medicare, including cost-of-living increases, to address the federal deficit, which was apparently in dire straits according to Biden at the time, but nothing to worry about now that he’s accumulating charges against the future of the country.
After being saved from complete defeat by Barack Obama in 2008, then-Vice President Joe Biden would demonstrate his willingness to make “adjustments” to Social Security, including cuts, means testing, and an increase in the minimum retirement age, in a proposed “grand bargain” with congressional Republicans. Biden is still on record as being amenable to the notion of changing, slashing, or altering a program that he now insists is sacred, despite the fact that the deal ultimately failed. And now he is using this position as a political club against congressional Republicans, despite the fact that he has tried to slash Social Security and Medicare more strongly and concretely than today’s Republicans.