In a new attempt to distract from the GOP’s decades-long campaign to end Social Security and Medicare, right-wing media are now falsely claiming that Democrats and President Joe Biden are the real threat to the social safety net. In fact, Democratic proposals to reform entitlement programs in the past have been paired with raising taxes and repealing tax cuts for the very wealthy, while Republicans have historically targeted entitlement programs with budget cuts or restrictions and refused to make the superrich pay their fair share.
During Biden’s 2023 State of the Union speech, Biden correctly claimed that “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.” Following his speech, right-wing media have attempted to rehabilitate Republican lawmakers by alternately denying the reality that Republicans have opposed Social Security and Medicare since the programs were created, and falsely equating Democratic attempts to ensure entitlement solvency with Republican sabotage.
But the old clips and soundbites Fox News and other right-wing outlets are dragging out of context to claim Democrats are the ones trying to cut entitlement programs only highlight Democrats’ past attempts to work with Republicans at entitlement reform — a bargain proposed in exchange for a more progressive tax code that Republicans have repeatedly rejected. As explained by Vox in an account of the last time such a “grand bargain” failed:
The reason Social Security and Medicare left the Obama years untouched was fundamentally that Republicans didn’t want to make a deal. Rather than raising taxes and cutting entitlements, their idea, outlined in multiple budget documents written by Paul Ryan, was to cut taxes as well as entitlement spending.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have talked about “reforms” to Medicare and Social Security. However, Democratic proposals have focused on expanding access and increasing benefits paired with raising taxes for the rich. Conversely, Republican plans have focused on restricting access and reducing benefits. Nevertheless, right-wing media are trying to distort Biden’s clear State of the Union promise not to cut Social Security and Medicare as president:
Despite these facts, right-wing media have focused on falsely suggesting that proposals by Democrats and Biden are no different than those put forth by Republicans:
- On America’s Newsroom, after playing a clip of Biden talking about entitlement reform in 1995, Fox anchor Bill Hemmer equated this to Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)’s recent proposal, saying “That kind of sounds like what you are asking for now.”
- Fox correspondent Ed Lawrence also equated Biden’s 1995 actions and Scott’s position in a report: “Sen. Scott is making the claim to sunset every federal program after five years. The president is saying that's an attack on social security and medicare. Now, let’s fact check this. Listen to the president back in 1995, and Sen. Scott today.”
- Fox News tweeted a link to an article on their website with the caption: “FLASHBACK: Biden introduced bill to sunset all federal programs — including Social Security.” [Twitter, 2/8/23]
- Just the News’ John Solomon tweeted: “Biden once introduced bill to 'sunset' federal programs similar to one for which he criticized GOP | Just The News” [Twitter, 2/9/23]
- The Federalist published an article titled: “Joe Biden Tried Multiple Times To Cut Medicare And Social Security.”