Ross: Biden shoots down Social Security cuts in tactical maneuver

Feb 8, 2023, 7:57 AM | Updated: 11:18 am


President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

For a senior citizen, Joe Biden can be pretty sneaky.

I’m talking about the moment in the State of the Union speech where he said that some Republicans were talking about cutting Social Security.

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“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” Biden said. “I’m not saying it’s the majority. Anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy.”

Well, I remember that proposal; it was from Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida. It was one of those trial balloons that members of Congress sometimes release over American territory – a proposal to sunset all federal programs after five years, including Social Security and Medicare – so that they could be re-evaluated.

But he withdrew that quite a while ago. When he was asked about it on CNN last October, here’s how the conversation went.

“It’s a simple yes or no. Do Republicans want to cut Medicare and or Social Security?” CNN correspondent Dana Bash said.

“Absolutely not. What I want to do is make sure we live within our means and make sure we preserve those programs people paid into them,” Sen. Scott said. “They believe in them. I believe in them. I’m going to fight like hell to make sure we preserve Medicare and Social Security.”

“Do you support raising the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security?” Bash asked.

‘No,” Scott responded.

“Do you support cutting back on Medicare benefits or reducing Social Security payments in order to keep the program solvent?” Bash asked.

“No, and I don’t know one Republican that does,” Sen. Scott said.

So basically, he backed away from the “sunset” idea about four months ago.

Which is why the Republicans protested last night when Biden brought it up. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia even yelled out, “liar!”

But Biden ran with it anyway – and I think he may have done Republicans a favor. Because how many Americans do you think heard Senator Scott shoot down his own trial balloon on CNN last October? Very few.

But last night, America saw every Republican shouting down the notion that they would even think of withholding one penny of anybody’s Social Security.

“I’m not saying that the majority of you, I don’t even think it’s even significant number of you,” Biden responded to the chaos.

He backpedals a little bit, but Republicans wanted to make it clear there is no one in the Republican party – not one who, even in their wildest fantasy – who would even hint at entertaining even a fleeting thought of touching Social Security.

“So folks, as we all apparently agreed, Social Security and Medicare are off the books now. We got unanimity,” Biden concluded.

Both parties then rose in a standing ovation.

And that, my fellow Americans, is how Joe Biden sent yet another balloon plummeting into the ocean. And wherever that trial balloon came from, we can now be sure it did not come from Republican territory.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Biden shoots down Social Security cuts in tactical maneuver