Biden and Trump should be disqualified for being ‘dishonest’ about Social Security, Cassidy says
Sen. Bill Cassidy is not happy with the top contenders in the 2024 race – and thinks both Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be ‘disqualified’ for pretending they care about Social Security.
‘They’re willing to put the future of our country’s financial health and senior citizens’ financial health — to sacrifice it because they want to get reelected,’ Cassidy told DailyMail.com in an interview.
‘That, in my mind, should disqualify either one of them from getting elected.’
The retirement program is set to start running out of funds by 2034 – with an automatic 24 percent benefit cut when it goes insolvent.
But both Trump and Biden have made Social Security attack fodder to go after their political opponents who they claim want to ‘cut’ the government-run program – alarming Americans nationwide.
Sen. Bill Cassidy is not happy with the top contenders in the 2024 race – and thinks both Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be ‘disqualified’ for pretending they care about Social Security
Cassidy has been on a crusade to change the dialogue, and take Social Security reform right up to the top of the ticket on both sides.
He’s teamed up with Sen. Angus King, a Maine Independent who caucuses with Democrats, to corral together a bipartisan group of now around 14 senators who have committed to backing reforms to the program before it runs out of funding.
‘We can’t go forward unless we have a presidential candidate who’s willing to say he’s willing to work with Congress,’ the Louisiana Republican told DailyMail.com in an interview.
Social Security became a political third rail when President Biden in the State of the Union claimed ‘some Republicans’ want ‘Medicare and Social Security to sunset’ – a remark that drew raucous GOP boos and even prompted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to call Biden a ‘liar.’
‘So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the table now, right?’ Biden said. ‘We’ve got unanimity.’
Cassidy said that moment, coupled with Trump’s comments on the matter, stoked appetites on Capitol Hill to discuss changes.
‘Before the State of the Union speech and Trump’s rhetoric, yeah, we were getting excellent buy-in from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats,’ Cassidy said.
‘But I found more political courage among my colleagues in the House and the Senate than among the leading presidential candidates.’
Trump has unloaded on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as ‘the man who wants to cut Social Security and Medicare’ for a non-binding resolution he back in Congress that would raise the age to 70. He’s repeatedly fired off warnings to Republicans not to ‘cut a single penny’ from the program.
Meanwhile Cassidy’s plan entails putting an additional $1.5 trillion into an investment fund and allowing that money to mature over the course of 70 years. The plan would cover 75 percent of the Social Security shortfall, presuming a greater rate of return than the cost of investing, which, as Cassidy points out, ‘has been true since at least 1929.’
The current federal borrowing rate is 3.9 percent, but Cassidy said the fund would aim for an 8.5 percent average growth rate.
As to where the money comes from in the first place, the senator said he is open to input.
Cassidy said the federal government could sell off its other assets that are “currently laying around idle.” ‘Or, we could borrow the money, or there might be some sort of agreement to open up some to open up some natural resource for development that currently has not been developed. Or, you could raise taxes. I personally favor selling assets.
He’s unlikely to convince House Republicans, who under tense debt ceiling negotiations have said they would rather risk default than plunge the nation further into debt, to get on board with increasing borrowing for the private fund.
Other ideas have been floated — namely increasing the payroll tax cap beyond $160,000 and increasing the retirement age — though they have not gotten any serious consideration.
Social Security currently allows people to claim benefits starting at 62, but benefits increase the longer a retiree waits.
Asked if any would-be presidential candidates seemed open to working on reform, “Pence has got an idea,” Cassidy said, referring to the former vice president who has not formally launched a run.
‘Before the State of the Union speech and Trump’s rhetoric, yeah, we were getting excellent buy-in from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats,’ Cassidy said
Biden has gone after Republicans for wanting to cut Social Security
Cassidy declined to say who he would support in the GOP primary, praising Sen. Tim Scott – who launched his run on Monday – as a ‘good man’ of ‘character’ but saying he had not discussed Social Security with him.
‘It’s pretty clear that President Biden is not interested,’ Cassidy said. His team has met with staffers at the White House but was shot down when they asked to meet with the president himself.
‘All they did was listen, never offered any ideas,’ Cassidy said of the White House staff.
‘Trump’s rhetoric makes it clear that he’s gonna campaign pretending that there is no problem. It’s totally dishonest. He criticizes anybody who even talks about it but again, that’s the dishonesty that the president is so good at and the former president is so good at.’
Cassidy, a gastroenterologist by trade, said he came to care about the issue after two decades of working with under-insured and uninsured senior patients.
‘I am aware that our fellow Americans who depend upon Social Security to stay out of poverty – if you look what happens if there’s a 24 percent cut to benefits, the rate of poverty among the elderly doubles – doubles!’ he said.
Right now, the senator is focusing on an advocacy campaign. He said he has an ‘almost complete’ piece of legislation, but is hesitant to let ‘dishonest’ politicians use it to attack him and the other lawmakers who are signed on.
‘I can promise you we put it out there instead of folks recognizing that this is a good faith effort to move the ball forward, they would fasten upon one little thing they could demagogue and then destroy everything.’
It’ll be a tough sell in the Democrat-controlled Senate to get Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to let it come up for a vote — or to even get Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s backing.
The latest projections from the CBO found that the current gap between the outlays from the funds and the revenue received—if continued over the next ten years—will cause the Social Security fund to officially hit zero.
Social Security spending has been on the rise as more Americans hit retirement age and leave the workforce, relying solely on the fund’s benefits.
According to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office, two of the funds will be drained by 2033 while another major fund will be gone by 2048.
‘Everybody knows that unless the president endorses the concept, it’ll never be signed into law. And so no one is going to waste political capital or just make a statement,’ Cassidy said of his discussions with leadership.
‘So we’re just pounding away, hoping that we can get a presidential candidate who’s got the courage to be honest with the American people, and recognize that we’ve got a solution that can address 75% of the issue,’ the senator said.