Johnson and Arrington

House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) talks with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 14, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

House GOP Advances 'Death Panel' for Social Security in Election Year

"MAGA House Republicans are demonstrating their hostility to working Americans and retirees," said one critic.

Congressional Democrats and other defenders of Social Security and Medicare responded with alarm after U.S. House Budget Committee Republicans on Thursday advanced a sweeping resolution that includes support for a fiscal commission intended to gut the crucial programs.

While Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) celebrated the committee's passage of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2025, Ranking Member Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) declared that "today, we saw just how backward and extreme House Republicans' vision for the future really is."

"We saw just how willing Republicans are to sell out American families in order to continue giving trillions in tax cuts to price gouging corporations and the ultrarich," Boyle said. "And we saw just how hellbent they are on gutting critical programs—raising the cost of living and pushing the middle class out of reach for hardworking families."

"Budget Committee Democrats know who we're fighting for. That's why we proposed amendments that would have protected Social Security and Medicare, prevented Republicans from raising healthcare costs, and defended American families against the devastating cuts in this budget resolution," he continued. "By voting for this dangerous budget and by rejecting our amendments today, committee Republicans have made it clear who they're fighting for—the wealthy and the well-connected."

"The commission is designed to slash vital earned benefits through a fast-track, closed-door process, intended to allow Republicans to avoid political accountability."

The committee vote came as President Joe Biden prepared to deliver his third State of the Union speech at 9:00 pm ET. The Democrat is a fierce critic of the GOP's proposed "death panel," as the White House and other opponents call the commission. He is seeking reelection in November and is expected to face former Republican President Donald Trump.

"After hearing Budget Committee Republicans tell us how they'll take us backward, I look forward to hearing President Biden tell us how he'll keep America moving forward at the State of the Union tonight," said Boyle. The congressman was not alone in referencing the Thursday night address in remarks about the GOP attack on key programs.

Social Security Works president Nancy Altman said that "at tonight's State of the Union, President Joe Biden has a golden opportunity to slam the Trump-Arrington death panel. In addition, Biden should renew his promise to protect and expand Social Security—and pay for it by taxing the ultrarich. Then the American people will know which party stands with them and which party stands with the billionaire class."

"The commission is designed to slash vital earned benefits through a fast-track, closed-door process, intended to allow Republicans to avoid political accountability," Altman stressed. "Every Republican who voted for this budget voted to cut Social Security and Medicare."

"This markup comes two days after Donald Trump enthusiastically endorsed Chairman Arrington," she noted. "Arrington is a fervent supporter of the death panel commission, and wants to attach it to must-pass government spending bills. By endorsing Arrington, Trump has endorsed the Social Security death panel."

Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, also took aim at not only the committee's Republicans but also Trump, referencing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that he signed into law in 2017.

"MAGA House Republicans are demonstrating their hostility to working Americans and retirees via their fiscal year 2025 budget resolution," he said. "The MAGA budget includes trillions of dollars in cuts to domestic spending while extending the Trump/GOP tax giveaways to the wealthy and profitable corporations that swelled the debt."

Richtman called the commission "equally troubling," adding that "we fiercely oppose such a commission as a scheme for cutting seniors' earned benefits while shielding members of Congress from accountability."

"Social Security and Medicare Part A do not contribute to the debt. Seniors' earned benefits should be protected from a commission that would fast-track benefit cuts," he argued. "If MAGA Republicans really want to reduce the debt, they should start by letting the Trump tax cuts expire. Current and future seniors on fixed incomes should not be punished for the GOP's fiscal recklessness."

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