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Republican budget would raise the age of retirement for Social Security

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WASHINGTON — A new budget by a large and influential group of House Republicans calls for raising the Social Security retirement age for future retirees and restructuring Medicare.

The proposals are unlikely to become law this year, but they reflect how many Republicans will seek to govern if they win the 2024 elections. And they play into a fight President Joe Biden is seeking to have with former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as he runs for re-election.

Apart from fiscal policy, the RSC budget endorses a series of bills “designed to advance the cause of life,” including the Life at Conception Act, which would place aggressive restrictions on 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 budget was released Wednesday by the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 170 House GOP lawmakers, including many allies of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The RSC is chaired by Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., and counts among its members Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and his top three deputies in leadership. Johnson previously chaired the RSC from 2019 to 2021 and his office did not immediately respond when asked about the new budget.

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. And it emphasizes that these ideas are not designed to take effect immediately: “The RSC Budget does not cut or delay retirement benefits for any senior in or near retirement.”

The new budget also calls for converting Medicare to a “premium support model,” echoing a proposal that former Republican Speaker Paul Ryan had rallied support for. Under the new RSC plan, traditional Medicare would compete with private plans and beneficiaries would be given a subsidy to shop for a policy of their choice. The size of the subsidy 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 nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, and then-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 won’t cut benefits and instead proposing in his recent White House budget to cover the future shortfall by raising taxes on upper earners.

The RSC budget also presents a conundrum for Trump, who has offered shifting rhetoric on Social Security and Medicare without proposing a clear vision for the future of the programs.

Notably, the RSC budget presents three possible options to address the projected insolvency of the retirement programs: raise taxes, transfer money from the general fund or reduce spending to cover the shortfall.

It rejects the first two options.

“Raising taxes on people will further punish them and burden the broader economy–something that the spend and print regime has proven to be disastrous and regressive,” the budget says, adding that the committee also opposes “a multi-trillion-dollar general fund transfer that worsens our fiscal situation.”

That leaves spending cuts.

The RSC budget launches blistering criticism at “Obamacare,” or the Affordable Care Act, and calls for rolling back its subsidies and regulations that were aimed at extending insurance coverage.



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