A new AARP survey of adults age 50 and older shows overwhelming opposition to Medicare and Social Security benefit cuts. While only 3% of respondents said the federal budget deficit is “not a problem at all,” 85% “strongly oppose” reducing earned Medicare and Social Security benefits to help pay for it. This was true across party lines: 87% of Democrats and 88% of Republicans strongly oppose cutting Social Security, while 87% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans strongly oppose reducing that program’s benefits.
The survey comes as some in Congress are examining ways to lower national debt levels, which have risen in recent years primarily due to legislative changes like the 2017 tax cuts and the ongoing COVID-19 response.
One such proposal, the TRUST Act, would fast track bills to cut Medicare and Social Security. It would set up closed-door commissions called “Rescue Committees” that would draft legislation to address Medicare and Social Security trust fund solvency. If approved by just seven Rescue Committee members, such a proposal would receive expedited consideration in the House and Senate—lawmakers would be unable to make any changes or have a meaningful public debate. Medicare Rights has consistently opposed this approach, including as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.
At the same time, the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 150 conservative House Republicans, just unveiled a ten-year spending plan that would slash $2.5 trillion from Medicare; $708 billion from Social Security; and $3.3 trillion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicaid.
As AARP notes, “While older Americans care about the nation’s long-term fiscal health, we also know they want to make sure the promises made to all Americans regarding Social Security and Medicare are honored. Indeed, Social Security and Medicare had little to do with the recent run-up of debt and deficits in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, Social Security provided a stable source of income, and Medicare provided critical health coverage, at a time when it was most needed. Rather than being part of the problem during the pandemic, Social Security and Medicare have been a big part of the solution. These key programs should not be seen as budgetary scapegoats for an increase in debt they did not cause.”
Medicare Rights urges lawmakers to protect and strengthen these critical earned benefits.
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