The architect of a plan to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it was tapped to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Rep. Paul Ryan’s very specific plan to cut Social Security and Medicare clarifies the debate. Meanwhile, the White House signaled that President Obama in his State of the Union address would not endorse recommendations by a White House deficit commission to cut Social Security. Sanders had outlined his case a Jan. 11 letter to the president. In a conference call with reporters on Monday about Social Security, Sanders was joined by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
“The Republican leadership has been vague about what federal programs they want to cut, but Paul Ryan has been very clear,” Sanders said. “Congressman Ryan introduced a budget plan that would privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan; raise the retirement age to 70; and increase taxes on 90 percent of American taxpayers.”
Ryan’s plan has been endorsed by senior Republicans on the House and Senate budget committees.
“This is a moment in American history where the American people want civil discourse and a respectful hearing of all points of view,” Sanders said. “Now is the moment for us to begin a serious debate in Congress and a national conversation about where we want to go as a nation. In my view the American people do not want more tax breaks for millionaires and multi-national corporations and devastating cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs desperately needed by the American people in these very difficult times. I look forward to that debate.”
Meanwhile, Sanders welcomed reports that the White House rejected calls to cut Social Security.
“The president during his campaign made very strong promises to the American people to defend Social Security. He understands, as I do, that Social Security, funded by payroll taxes, has not contributed one nickel to the deficit and with modest reforms will be there for our children and grandchildren,” Sanders said. “The president understands that Social Security is a life-and-death issue for tens of millions of Americans. I look forward to working with him to make sure we keep faith with American seniors and the disabled,” the senator added.