House Republicans threaten to play hardball to slash the social safety net
For the power to make cuts to Medicare and Social Security, top GOP lawmakers would be willing to allow the US to default on its obligation to repay money the government has borrowed.
If Republicans retake the House in four weeks, they’ve singled out the deadline for Congress to raise the debt limit as the bargaining chip they’ll leverage in exchange for cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other social investment programs next year.
Jack Fitzpatrick at Bloomberg Government reports that the four Republicans interested in leading the House Budget Committee would each be willing to allow the United States to default on its obligation to repay money the government has borrowed for the power to slash the social net that older Americans, folks with low income and people with disabilities rely on to make ends meet.
“With this recent threat, Republicans are once again saying the quiet part out loud. The GOP wants to dismantle earned benefits for our nation’s seniors, rip away health care from tens of millions of Americans and raise costs on hardworking families,” Maddie Twomey, a spokesperson for Protect Our Care, said in a statement to Supercreator. “To put our nation’s financial security at risk in order to cut these vital programs is simply reckless and would only harm vulnerable communities that are already struggling to make ends meet.”
Congressional Republicans for months have hinted at their plans to legislate their hostility toward so-called entitlement programs into federal policy. They had yet to really outline the path to make their ambition a reality though since control of the Senate won’t be decided until next month and President Joe Biden would veto any bill that weakened Medicare or Social Security. But the strategy here is as simple as it is cynical: Force Democrats to either let the country fall into economic catastrophe or make unpleasant cuts to popular programs, some of which have been around for generations.
In addition to changing the eligibility requirements for Social Security and Medicare, Republicans plan to propose restrictions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on unemployed adults without dependents.
This isn’t the first time House Republicans have tried this gambit. As journalist Damon Linker noted on Twitter, the GOP wanted to scale down and privatize Medicare and Social Security in 2011.
Paul Ryan, then the House Budget Committee chair, proposed a voucher system in which the government would provide a set amount of money for people to buy private insurance on their own. The plan would have also stripped future Medicare enrollees under 55 years old of guaranteed benefits.
The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency that provides Congress with economic and budgetary analysis, estimated at the time that under the plan the average 65-year-old would pay 68 percent of the cost of their coverage out of pocket compared with the 25-percent share they paid then — effectively doubling their costs from about $6,000 to $12,500 over a decade.
This is the primary beef most Democrats have with GOP proposals. It’s not that they’re against reforming the system but not at the expense of hurting the people the program was designed to help.
Another issue back then was that details were scant on how the voucher program would be administered. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume this same snag would assail GOP lawmakers more than a decade later.
Most importantly, Republicans still have to win the election. And while, as I reported last month, there’s a common apathy among millennial and Gen Z voters I speak to when it comes to these programs reserved for Boomers and beyond, young people have a stake in the future of Medicare and Social Security whether they realize it or not.
As Democrats, led by President Biden, continue to travel the country to make the case for two more years in the majority, expect them to cast these GOP proposals as additional evidence of how extreme the Republican agenda has become.
“Now, I wish I could say Republicans supported this progress and reducing health care costs and strengthening Medicare. That would be good for all of America. But they have a very different idea,” President Biden said last month. “I have a different idea. I’ll protect those programs. I’ll make them stronger. And I’ll lower your cost to be able to keep them.”
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning received his daily intelligence briefing and then held a virtual meeting with the G7 leaders to discuss the war in Ukraine. This afternoon, he will give a virtual speech at the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control. This evening, the president will participate in a virtual reception for Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.
Biden’s week ahead:
Wednesday: The president will travel to Vail, Colorado to speak about outdoor conservation before traveling to Los Angeles.
Thursday: Biden will speak about infrastructure in LA and then participate in a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception.
Friday: The president will travel to Orange County, California to speak about his economic agenda. Then he’ll travel to Portland, Oregon to participate in an event with the Oregon Democrats.
Saturday: Biden will participate in a reception in Portland for Tina Kotek, the Democratic nominee for governor of Oregon. He’ll also speak about his economic agenda before traveling to Wilmington, Delaware for the weekend.
Vice President Kamala Harris this afternoon will ceremonially swear in Travis LeBlanc to be a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
The House is out.
The Senate is in to start debate on the 2023 defense budget. No votes are scheduled until November 14.
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IN THE KNOW
Biden, world leaders meet with UKR leader: President Biden and the leaders of the G7 (Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Canada) convened a virtual meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to discuss the recent attack in the country’s capital city of Kyiv by Russia on Monday. The leaders said they would impose additional sanctions on Russia, reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s independence and called on Belarus to stop enabling the war by allowing Russian armed forces to use Belarusian territory and by providing support to the Russian military. Read the G7 joint statement
WH previews student loan cancelation app: The Education Department gave eligible borrowers a sneak peek of the application they’ll need to complete in order to have their student loans canceled under the plan President Biden announced in August.
The administration says the application will require no supporting documents or Federal Student ID and be available in English and Spanish and on mobile and desktop devices.
The application period is expected to open later this month and run through December 31, 2023. But the White House has set a mid-November deadline for borrowers who want their relief before the payment pause expires at the end of the year.
Related: Most Americans think college is unattainable: 77 percent of US adults say a college degree would be difficult for someone like them to afford, according to a new Morning Consult poll.
Americans support Biden’s weed pardons: Two-thirds of American adults support pardoning all prior federal convictions for marijuana possession and their governor doing the same at the state level, according to a new USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted after President Biden took action to do so last week. And almost three-quarters of the adult population support changing how federal law classifies marijuana so it is no longer in the same category as heroin and LSD.
The poll also found that Americans by a two-to-one margin view decriminalizing cannabis as an important step in correcting past racial injustices as opposed to a policy that would lead to more crime, drug trafficking and underage use.
Harris says VP protections give Godfather vibes: Vice President Harris on Monday joined Seth Meyers to pre-tape an interview for Late Night where she referenced the iconic film The Godfather to describe what walks with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff are like now that she can’t go anywhere without a security detail.
“You know that scene when Michael is in Italy and he’s courting that woman and they decide to take a walk through the village?” she asked Meyers. “So the shot is just the two of them taking this lovely walk and then it pans out and the whole village is with them. That’s what our walks are like.”
The vice president then spoke with Meyers about the upcoming midterm elections, why the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade* affects all Americans, how Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas bussing migrants to the east coast is a “deriliction of duty” and what’s next for marijuana reform after last week’s announcement on presidential pardons.
Harris also gave high marks to President Biden, who is familiar with her current role after serving as former President Barack Obama’s second-in-command for eight years: “He knows the jobs and he cares about the partnership,” she said. “He really is quite wonderful.”
WH proposes fix to worker misclassification: The Labor Department announced it will publish a proposed rule on Thursday to clarify for employers and workers if a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The proposed rule is an effort to combat employee misclassification, which companies like Uber, Instacart and DoorDash benefit from and the department says denies workers’ rights and protections under federal labor standards while promoting wage theft and hurting the overall economy.
“While independent contractors have an important role in our economy, we have seen in many cases that employers misclassify their employees as independent contractors, particularly among our nation’s most vulnerable workers,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement.
Men and millennials drive anime’s rise: The anime market is expected to swell to $48.3 billion by 2030, a figure fueled in part by men and millennials who are most likely to consider themselves anime fans. Half of anime fans say they first became interested in the genre because a friend or family member recommended a title, according to Morning Consult. And experts say millennials are fueling the growth in anime and passing the interest down to younger generations.
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