Administration

Biden to use Florida trip to warn of GOP threat to Social Security and Medicare

President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden will head to Florida Tuesday with a focus on how a Republican-controlled Congress could threaten Social Security and Medicare benefits for millions of Americans.

Exactly one week ahead of the midterm elections, Biden will be joined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Florida state legislators, as well as a Florida man who relies on Medicare, the White House said. Following his remarks in Hallandale Beach, Biden will attend fundraisers for gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist (D) and Senate nominee Val Demings (D), both of whom face uphill battles in their campaigns to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R), respectively.

The president last visited Florida to tour damage from Hurricane Ian. He appeared alongside DeSantis and commended his response to the storm, despite the tensions between the governor and the White House over issues including immigration and the coronavirus pandemic.

A RealClearPolitics average of polls from this month showed DeSantis leading Crist in the gubernatorial race by 12 percentage points. An average of polls from this month in the Senate race showed Rubio leading Demings by 8 percentage points.

The president is expected Tuesday to talk about a pledge from some Republicans to repeal aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act, passed earlier this year with only Democratic votes, as well as a proposal released in February by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that calls for sunsetting federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Biden has in recent days increased his focus on those issues to warn that a Republican Congress would threaten to strip benefits from the tens of millions of Americans who rely on those programs.

A White House study released Tuesday morning said 63 million Medicare beneficiaries, 89 million Medicaid beneficiaries and 65 million Social Security beneficiaries would have their benefits at risk.

Biden has repeatedly pointed to Scott’s agenda, released earlier this year, that included a proposal to sunset government programs every five years, meaning lawmakers would need to vote to extend Medicare and Social Security.

The president has also cited comments earlier this year from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who suggested funding for Social Security and Medicare should be approved yearly through the budgeting process.

But many Republicans have distanced themselves from those kinds of remarks and downplayed that they are interested in dramatically cutting or changing Social Security or Medicare, two popular programs that tens of millions of older Americans rely on for supplemental income and health care.

Some GOP lawmakers have dismissed the suggestion as an attempt by Democrats to change the discussion ahead of Election Day at a time when many voters are worried about the economy under Biden.

Meanwhile, Democrats in recent days have zeroed in on a particularly bleak scenario: that a Republican-led House would hold the debt ceiling hostage, threatening a government default and economic crisis if the Biden administration does not agree to spending cuts. Biden has pledged that he would reject any proposal to cut Social Security or Medicare using his veto power.

Biden on Tuesday is also expected to note Republicans have promised to repeal parts of the Inflation Reduction Act, which included provisions to lower health care premiums and prescription drug costs.

The White House said in a fact sheet that if Republicans were to go through with that plan, 13 million people with health insurance through the Affordable Care Act would pay an average of $800 more for coverage.

Tags Biden Charlie Crist Debbie Wasserman Schultz Marco Rubio Ron DeSantis
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