Sen. Ron Wyden speaks during a hearing

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) speaks during a February 8, 2022 hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Wyden Calls McCarthy Social Security Commission 'A Glide Path to Reduce Benefits'

"Everything I've heard about it, it's a prescription for trouble," the Senate Finance Committee chair said of the House speaker's debt reduction panel.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden on Friday warned that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's commission tasked with reducing the nation's growing debt is a "prescription for trouble" that will likely result in the slashing of vital programs on which tens of millions of Americans rely—including Social Security.

McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently announced the launch of a fiscal commission that will find ways to reduce the national debt—on the heels of striking a deal with President Joe Biden to suspend the nation's borrowing limit until 2025.

While some other leading Republicans have embraced the idea of a commission, many Democrats are wary.

Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, toldThe Associated Press that he views the plan as a way for Republicans to rack up "ideological trophies."

"Everything I've heard about it, it's a prescription for trouble," Wyden said, adding that Republicans are "looking at a glide path to reduce benefits."

Biden was loudly booed by GOP lawmakers during his State of the Union address in February when he accused some Republicans of wanting to "sunset" Social Security, prompting McCarthy to shake his head no. A week earlier, McCarthy had asserted that cuts to Social Security and Medicare—each of which serve more than 65 million Americans—were off the table.

However, last month McCarthy alleged that Biden "walled off" cuts to Social Security and Medicare during the debt ceiling talks and said the commission would "look at" reducing funding for both programs.

"I'm going to make some people uncomfortable," the speaker said.

In response to McCarthy's commission launch, Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary and senior communications adviser, issued a memo warning that Republicans are going after Social Security, despite previous pledges.

"These new statements from the speaker demonstrate that the House GOP are reversing the promise they made to President Biden and the country in the State of the Union, and that to shield billionaires and multinational corporations from paying a cent more in taxes, they very much intend to slash Americans' Medicare and Social Security benefits," Bates wrote.

"The American people—including majorities of conservatives—reject that approach, and support President Biden's work to stand up for the benefits they pay their entire lives to earn," he added.

Advocacy groups also panned the idea of a GOP-led fiscal commission.

"Kevin McCarthy's commission is a scheme to cut Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors," Social Security Works tweeted Friday. "Hands off our earned benefits!"

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