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New House Speaker Had Proposed Trillions in Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

As chair of the Republican Study Committee, Mike Johnson suggested slashing the programs should be Congress’s priority.

Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson watches as House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries delivers remarks after Johnson was elected as the new speaker at the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

The newly elected Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has previously proposed trillions of dollars in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and suggested that slashing the programs should be the top priority of Congress.

During his tenure as chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) between 2019 and 2021, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) helped craft budget resolutions that called for roughly $2 trillion in Medicare cuts, $3 trillion in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act cuts, and $750 billion in Social Security Cuts, noted Bobby Kogan of the Center for American Progress.

Alex Lawson, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Social Security Works, said in a Wednesday statement following the speakership vote that the budget proposals released by the Johnson-led RSC also endorsed raising the Social Security retirement age, lowering annual cost-of-living benefit increases, and advancing privatization efforts.

“Multimillionaire Johnson has also made the outrageous claim that forced births are necessary to fund Social Security,” said Lawson, referring to the Louisiana Republican’s attempt to blame Roe v. Wade for depriving the U.S. of “able-bodied workers.”

Lawson added that Johnson “recently joined the vast majority of House Republicans to vote for a commission designed to cut Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors.”

“Now that Johnson is speaker, he will do what the Republicans never stop doing — everything in their power to cut our Social Security and Medicare, by hook, crook, or commission,” said Lawson. “The White House has rightfully referred to such a commission as a ‘death panel’ for Social Security and Medicare. Seniors and people with disabilities are counting on the Biden administration, as well as Congressional Democrats, to stand united to protect our earned benefits. That means rejecting any commission proposal.”

Johnson’s positions on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are in no way out of step with the overwhelming majority of the House Republican caucus.

Earlier this year, the RSC — now chaired by Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) — issued a budget proposal that called for gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 69, a change that would slash benefits across the board.

The RSC, which is comprised of three-quarters of the House GOP caucus, also proposed turning Medicare into a voucher program and massively cutting Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Affordable Care Act subsidies.

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