Pence urges Republicans to support Social Security and Medicare reform

Former Vice President Mike Pence has a different view than other Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy or former President Donald Trump when it comes to Social Security and Medicare: Pence is urging Republicans to support large-scale changes to the programs they address long-term solvency concerns.

Pence said in an interview with Breitbart News last week that Republicans should not stop trying to change the programs.

“Having a national debt that is larger than our national economy is unsustainable,” Pence told Breitbart News. “The time will come when we must bring forth leadership in this country that is honest with the American people. Seventy percent of our federal budget is entitlements. The only way we can put our nation back on track to fiscal balance is if we enact the kind of sensible reforms to Social Security and Medicare that I think the American people would accept. That means we can make changes for younger Americans without in any way reducing support for Americans at or near retirement on Social Security and Medicare.”

Pence’s view is unlike many Republicans these days on an issue that was the focus of Democratic President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address earlier this month. Biden tore Republicans apart over what he believed to be cutting the two programs under the upcoming debt ceiling deal, a characterization Republicans in the chamber protested loudly, and yelled at him for lying. McCarthy has made it clear that Social Security and Medicare changes are off the table in these negotiations, and Trump — the former president who is currently leading the Republican field — has also made it clear that he will not touch either. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) also revised a plan he put forward last year that would scrap all federal programs that require reapproval after several years by exempting Social Security and Medicare from that proposal — and essentially a unit behind the GOP establishes Social Security and Medicare protection. That’s a different view from Republicans in an earlier era, like when President George W. Bush was in the White House or when Speaker Paul Ryan held the gavel in Congress. Pence, in his interview with Breitbart News, urged Republicans to find reforms that the public will accept.

“Many years ago, I supported President Bush’s initiative to allow younger Americans to take a portion of their Social Security contributions and invest it in a personal savings account. It’s an idea that I think will come along,” Pence said. “It would save taxpayers money in the long run by skewing the Social Security spending curve, but it would also give younger Americans a better return on their investment.” Right now, most younger Americans don’t think they’ll get anything from Social Security, but if the current system lives up to its obligations, they’ll get back about 1 percent of what was withheld from their paychecks, but 2 percent in something like that a blue-chip fund or something like the ESP fund, which millions of federal employees participate in, would double the returns most younger Americans get back. I’m saying we need to replace the New Deal with a Better Deal. I will continue to be a voice for the kind of common sense reforms that ensure we don’t make changes at the push of a button, but rather reform the system that wrests power from the American economy in a way that gives younger Americans a better deal.”

Pence understands how popular these programs are and how difficult it will be for Republicans to get changes to them. When asked how he would persuade the public to support such changes, Pence said the key is to think “long term” and consider changes for generations, rather than someone just about to retire stands.

“They think long-term, not short-term,” Pence said. “They tell every American within 20 years of their retirement that there will be no change. They keep the promises we made to American seniors and to them when they retire. But I think we’re offering younger Americans a choice: stay in the current system and pay out what’s agreed to, or accept a modest amount less in return so they can invest it in a way that can generate a greater return. I think it’s all about leadership and bringing a new and compelling vision to the American people. In fact, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in founding Social Security, said that while it would start out as a public program, it would eventually be a hybrid of a public program and a pension, and eventually it would be just a pension – meaning a private account. So it’s remarkable to believe that the Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun — I mean, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a vision a hundred years ago to turn Social Security into a blended pension for Americans, and in the 21st century it should we are working to give younger Americans the opportunity to do just that.”

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