Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House conservatives float changes to Social Security in budget proposal

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

RSC Chair Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest bloc of conservatives in the House, proposed raising the retirement age "to account for increases in life expectancy" in its annual budget blueprint.

Why it matters: The RSC is made up of roughly 80% of the House GOP. The proposal is a wish list for what policies House Republicans may pursue if they take back the White House and the Senate.

  • "With insolvency approaching in the 10-year budget window, Congress has a moral and practical obligation to address the problems with Social Security," the proposal argues.
  • "These common-sense, incremental reforms will simply buy Congress time to come together and negotiate policies that can secure Social Security solvency for decades to come."

The big picture: President Biden and Democrats have made protecting Social Security — often referred to as the "third rail" of politics — key to their economic attacks on Republicans.

  • "If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop them," Biden vowed in his State of the Union speech.
  • Trump suggested reforming "the bad management of entitlements" in an interview with CNBC last week. After backlash, a Trump campaign spokesperson clarified that he was referring to cutting "waste."
  • The RSC argues that reforms are necessary to keep the popular program solvent, with the blueprint pointing out that Biden previously supported similar language.

Zoom in: The budget proposes "delayed changes to the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) benefit formula, the retirement age, auxiliary benefits for high income earners, and gradually moving towards a flat benefit."

  • RSC Chair Kevin Hern (R-Okla) stresses in the budget that Republicans "WILL NOT adjust or delay retirement benefits for any senior in or near retirement."

What to watch: The Social Security trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2034, resulting in an across-the-board benefits cut.

Between the lines: The Biden campaign quickly seized Wednesday on the RSC's endorsement of the Life at Conception Act, which would apply 14th Amendment protections from "the moment of fertilization."

What they're saying: "Donald Trump's MAGA allies in Congress made it clear today: a vote for Trump is a vote to make the MAGA 2025 agenda of cutting Social Security, ripping away access to IVF, and banning abortion nationwide a hellish reality," Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement.

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