Jeffries says ‘extreme MAGA’ Republicans consider Social Security a Ponzi scheme: ‘Must stop them’

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
Annabelle Gordon
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) talks during his weekly on-camera press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, January 26, 2023.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said on Friday that “extreme MAGA” Republicans view Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” calling on Democrats to work to protect the program. 

“The Extreme MAGA Republican crowd claims Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. More evidence they want to destroy it. Dems must stop them,” Jeffries tweeted, using an acronym for former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. 

The White House and Democrats have been arguing this week with the GOP over whether Social Security and Medicare are at risk as part of some Republican Congress members’ proposals. 

At least a couple Republican members have either called Social Security a Ponzi scheme or compared it to one in the past.

The White House tweeted audio of an interview that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) gave on Thursday in which he said Social Security is a “legal Ponzi scheme.” 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also compared Social Security to a Ponzi scheme in an interview with The Texas Tribune in 2011.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden accused some Republicans of wanting to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare in exchange for agreeing to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Sunsetting would mean that Congress would need to reauthorize these programs for them to continue. 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said any cuts to Social Security and Medicare are “off the table” in negotiations over the debt limit. 

Biden was referring to a proposal that Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) put forward last year in which he called for sunsetting all federal legislation after five years, saying, “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” 

Some Republicans heckled Biden in response to his statement, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) yelling “liar” and others saying “no” or booing. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has distanced himself from Scott’s proposal, saying in an interview on a podcast on Thursday that “it’s clearly the Rick Scott plan, it is not the Republican plan.” 

“And that’s the view of the Speaker of the House as well,” McConnell continued. 

The White House and Scott have gone back and forth the past couple days, with Scott saying his proposals would not cut Social Security and Medicare and the Biden administration accusing him of wanting to be the “national poster-child” for Republican attacks on the programs. 

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said in a CNN interview that Biden’s claims are “not true” and that no Republican has pushed for sunsetting the two programs specifically in exchange for raising the debt limit.

—Updated at 1:18 p.m.

Tags debt ceiling Donald Trump Hakeem Jeffries Hakeem Jeffries Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy MAGA Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene medicare Rick Scott Ron Johnson social security State of the Union

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