Republican Study Committee Budget Includes Social Security Benefit Cuts

The proposal goes against former President Donald Trump’s past insistence that Republicans shouldn’t touch the popular retirement program.

WASHINGTON – A symbolic Republican budget proposal introduced this week includes cuts to future Social Security retirement benefits, despite former President Donald Trump’s pledge to leave the program untouched.

The Republican Study Committee, a group encompassing a majority of GOP House members, put out a budget outline on Wednesday calling for spending reductions in Social Security and Medicare.

The proposal calls for “modest changes” to Social Security benefits “for individuals who are not near retirement,” according to a one-paragraph summary in the study committee’s outline.

“It would also make modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees to account for increases in life expectancy,” the summary says, offering no further specifics.

President Joe Biden trashed the proposal in a Thursday statement.

“The Republican Study Committee budget shows what Republicans value,” Biden said. “This extreme budget will cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. It endorses a national abortion ban.”

The current eligibility age for full Social Security benefits is 67 for anyone born after 1959. Increasing the retirement age amounts to reducing benefits for future retirees, though Republicans stressed that the proposal wouldn’t affect anyone currently nearing retirement.

Republican Study Committee chair Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) said Thursday he believed Trump agreed with the RSC’s position.

“I think what you’re hearing President Trump say is exactly what we’re saying, because we’re not going to do anything to harm anybody that’s near retirement or in retirement,” Hern told reporters at a press conference.

Though the RSC’s budget is not legislation but just a theoretical framework designed to show that Republicans actually do care about balancing the budget, a similar proposal in last year’s outline became a political flashpoint in actual budget negotiations between President Biden and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Democrats repeatedly pointed to the RSC’s proposal as evidence that Republicans want to cut Social Security benefits, and McCarthy didn’t disown the idea until Trump said that “under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.”

Last week, in response to a question about whether he still opposed cutting so-called entitlement programs, Trump seemed to go off message, saying “there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting,” though he offered no specifics.

The White House, for its part, put out a symbolic budget this week that would reduce federal deficits mainly by increasing taxes.

The RSC’s budget, as well as a more official budget resolution by the House Budget Committee, theoretically balance federal spending and revenue solely by cutting spending. Instead of touching Social Security or Medicare, the House Budget Committee’s plan would establish a special commission to come up with changes to the popular programs.

None of the budget blueprints stand a chance of becoming law, as Congress for years has funded government operations through ad-hoc agreements hashed out at the last minute before a shutdown.

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