McCarthy Took Social Security Cuts Off the Table in Debt Ceiling Talks, but It’s Still Third Rail in Politics

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Republicans erupted in loud and sustained protests when President Joe Biden claimed during his Feb. 7 State of the Union (SOTU) address that they planned to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits for the elderly.

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years,” Biden declared.

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“That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away,” Biden added.

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That’s when the chamber of the House of Representatives was rocked by Republican senators and congressmen shouting “No!” and “We never said that.” For a few seconds, Biden stared back at them from the podium as if he was surprised by their protests of his declamation.

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Their anger was prompted by the fact that just the day before, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had taken cutting Social Security benefits “off the table” in a national address concerning his then just-beginning negotiations with Biden on raising the debt ceiling. McCarthy appeared determined to end Social Security’s long-running status as the untouchable “third rail of American politics.”


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