Exclusive – Pence Pushes Republicans to Back Social Security, Medicare Reform

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(breitbart) – Former Vice President Mike Pence has a different view than other Republicans such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy or former President Donald Trump when it comes to Social Security and Medicare: Pence is pushing Republicans to back big-scale changes to the programs to address long-term solvency concerns.

Pence, in an interview with Breitbart News last week, said Republicans should not move away from trying to change the programs.

“To have a national debt larger than our national economy is unsustainable,” Pence told Breitbart News. “The time will come when we have to produce leadership in this country that will be straight with the American people. Seventy percent of our federal budget are entitlements. The only way we’re going to set our nation back on a path to a balanced budget is if we bring the kind of common-sense reforms to Social Security and Medicare that I think the American people would accept. That is, we can make changes for younger Americans without in any way diminishing support for Americans at or near retirement in Social Security and Medicare.”

Pence’s view is different than many Republicans these days on an issue that took center stage when Democrat President Joe Biden gave his State of the Union address earlier this month. Biden ripped Republicans for, in his view, wanting to cut the two programs as part of the forthcoming debt ceiling deal, a characterization Republicans loudly objected to in the chamber, yelling back at him that he was lying. McCarthy has made clear that Social Security and Medicare changes are off the table in these negotiations, and Trump — the former president who currently leads the Republican field — has also made clear he is not going to touch either of them. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), too, has revised a plan he put forward last year that would sunset all federal programs requiring them to be reauthorized after several years by exempting Social Security and Medicare from that proposal—essentially creating GOP unity behind protecting Social Security and Medicare. That is a different view than Republicans had in a previous era, like back when President George W. Bush was in the White House or when Speaker Paul Ryan held the gavel in Congress. Pence, in his interview with Breitbart News, urged Republicans to find reforms that the public will accept.

“Many years ago, I supported President Bush’s initiative to allow younger Americans to take a portion of their Social Security withholdings and invest it in a private savings account. It is an idea whose time I believe will come,” Pence said. “It would save taxpayers money in the long run by bending the spending curve in Social Security but it would also give younger Americans a better return on their investment. Right now, most younger Americans don’t believe they’re going to get anything from Social Security but if the current system meets its obligations they’ll get back roughly a 1 percent return of what was withheld from their paycheck but a 2 percent return in something like a blue-chip fund, or something like the ESP fund that millions of federal employees are participating in would double the return most younger Americans are getting back. I say we’ve got to replace the New Deal with a Better Deal. I’m going to continue to be a voice for the kind of common-sense reforms that make sure we don’t make any changes at the point of a bead but what we reform the system that wrests the power of the American economy in a way to give younger Americans a better deal.”

Pence does understand how popular these programs are, and how difficult it will be for Republicans to achieve changes to them. Asked how he would convince the public to back such changes, Pence said that the key would be thinking “long-term” and considering changes for generations down the road, not anyone near retirement right now.

“You think in the long-term not the short-term,” Pence said. “You say to any American within 20 years of retirement that there will be no change. You keep the promises we made to American seniors and them when they reach retirement. But for younger Americans I think we offer them a choice: to stay in the current system and pay out what’s been agreed to be paid out or in exchange for them accepting some modest amount less allowing them to invest it in a way that can generate a greater return. I think it’s all about leadership and it’s all about communicating to the American people a new and compelling vision. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the creation of Social Security, actually said that while it would begin as a public program it would eventually be a blended public program and annuity and that eventually it would be just an annuity — meaning a private account. So, it’s remarkable to think the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun — I mean, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a vision a hundred years ago for transitioning Social Security to a blended annuity for Americans and in the 21st century we ought to work to give younger Americans the ability to do just that.”

breitbart.com/politics/2023/02/19/exclusive-pence-pushes-republicans-back-social-security-medicare-reform/