Speed Reads

'He rope-a-doped them'

Biden, top Democrats seem pleased with GOP reaction to his jabs on Social Security, Medicare cuts

Democrats seemed pleased Wednesday with Republican jeering of President Biden when, during Tuesday night's State of the Union address, he said some number of congressional Republicans "want Social Security and Medicare to sunset" or cut the programs in other ways. Biden said Tuesday night that he was "politely not naming" the Republicans proposing those cuts, but at a union training center in Wisconsin on Wednesday, he decided to name names

"When I raised the plans of some of their members in their caucus to cut Social Security ... Marjorie Taylor Greene and others stood up and said: 'Liar, liar,'" Biden said at his speech in DeForest, Wisconsin. He noted that Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) just last year proposed changing Social Security and Medicare so Congress has to renew them every few years — meaning they would "sunset." 

Biden also pointed to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who told a crowd in 2010 that "it will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up from the roots and get rid of it," along with Medicare and Medicaid. The White House named other Republicans in a list shared with reporters. There are a lot of possible examples, as Republicans have "built a brand for years" trying to slash both programs, The Associated Press notes.

"They sure didn't like me calling them on it," Biden said. Above all, he seemed pleased that Republicans spent much of Wednesday saying he mischaracterized their proposals. "It sounded like they agreed to take these cuts off the table," Biden said. "I'll believe it when I see it in their budgets," he added. "But it looks like we negotiated a deal last night on the floor of the House of Representatives."

Republicans say they want to discuss making changes to Medicare and Social Security as part of a larger push to eliminate the federal deficit, insisting they're trying to save both programs from insolvency. But it would be hard, maybe impossible, to balance the budget without either cutting defense spending or slashing Medicare and Social Security. And top Republicans are now on record saying they don't want to touch any of those. 

Biden "let them walk into his trap. He rope-a-doped them," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday. "And now all of America has seen the Republican Party say, 'No, we're not going to cut Social security and Medicare.' He did a service."