Fact Check: Joe Biden Inaccurately Claims Republicans Want Social Security Cuts

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CLAIM: President Joe Biden asserted during his State of the Union address that “some” Republicans want to “sunset” social security, and  “[o]ther Republicans” want cuts to the programs seniors have paid into their entire lives to offset the debt ceiling.

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. While some Republicans have advocated for social security cuts, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has said Republicans in the House, where initials cuts to the debt ceiling will be debated, will not cut social security or Medicare and vehemently shook his head in disagreement when Biden made the claim Tuesday.

Biden, who refuses to negotiate with Republicans over the $31.3 trillion debt ceiling, claimed:

Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years.

That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away.

Other Republicans say if we don’t cut Social Security and Medicare, they’ll let America default on its debt for the first time in our history.

However, McCarthy has stated multiple times that Republicans will not cut social security or Medicare, including in a meeting with Sen. Manchin (D-WV) and in comments to the Huffington Post.

In remarks delivered Monday ahead of the State of the Union, McCarthy reaffirmed “cuts to medicare and social security… are off the table.”

He then suggested Republicans would seek spending cuts in other areas of the federal government:

Defaulting on our debt is not an option, but neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, and an economy that doesn’t work for working Americans. Debt limit debates have been used for nearly every successful attempt to reform federal spending in living history. Why? Because the problem only gets solved when both parties come to the table. But don’t just take my word for it. Here is what then-Vice President Biden said when he negotiated a debt limit increase with House Republicans in 2011. “You can’t govern without negotiating,” he said. Those are his words. That’s what’s his sensible standard, and House Republicans are following it now.

Additionally, while McCarthy has pledged no cuts to social security, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing behind McCarthy during debt ceiling negotiations, allowing the frameworks to be hammered out in the GOP-controlled House. Former President Donald Trump has also vehemently warned the GOP, “Do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save social security, don’t destroy it.”


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