Social Security has become a predictable talking point for Democrats heading into the midterms, but some Republicans have been surprisingly eager to engage on the hot-button topic.
While many GOP leaders tried to stay mum on the so-called third rail of American politics, other Republican figures have waded in.
The latest example came from Rep. Buddy Carter R-GA, who is running to be the top Republican on the House Budget Committee next year. He spoke about Social Security reform and opened the door to future benefit cuts in an interview with Punchbowl News.
He said that I am not suggesting anyone who is on Social Security right now has their benefits cut. He said that there are ways to address the looming insolvency of the program and make it sustainable. The popularity of entitlement programs primarily benefit older citizens is a key voting bloc for both parties, which makes the willingness of Republicans like him to engage on the issue.
Blake Masters, who is currently in a tight Senate race in Arizona, even floated the idea of privatizing Social Security at a forum in June before walking back those comments.
Senate Republican campaign chair Rick Scott R-FL also released a plan in February that included a requirement for Congress to review all federal legislation every five years, including Social Security and Medicare. Senator Ron Johnson R-WI suggested that re-funding of the programs should happen each year.
The House Republicans Commitment to America last week included a pledge to save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare without any further information on how they might approach the issue.
In recent years, the sacredness of Social Security has been an increasing theme among Democrats. Bernie Sanders campaigned on raising benefits when he ran for president in 2020. Biden echoed some of the Vermont Senator's language, marking a change from previously being open to freezing the program.
The reality is that lawmakers will have to make hard choices about Social Security and Medicare in the years ahead, no matter what they say on the campaign trail this year. The reserve funds for both programs are faced with long-term shortfalls that could lead to reduced benefits beginning in 2028 for Medicare and 2034 for Social Security.
The programs should get more money in the years to come, and attack even suggestions from the GOP that cutbacks might be necessary.
On Tuesday, influential Senators Ron Wyden D-OR and Sherrod Brown D-OH held a colloquy on Social Security on the Senate floor, responding to what they called GOP attempts to end the program. The same day, President Biden made sure to bring up Social Security during a speech on health care costs and Medicare at the White House's Rose Garden.
Biden called out both the Sens, because they've been paying into Social Security since that first job as a teenager. Scott and Johnson are known by name. I ll make those programs stronger, and I ll make them stronger. Democratic ads on Social Security running around the U.S. have accompanyed the message from Washington. In one example, a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad highlights Blake Masters comments in Arizona, claiming he wants to gamble it in the stock market. It might be working in some instances. According to a poll out last week, 10% of voters over 50 years old cited Social Security Medicare as the issue most important to them when casting their Senate ballots.