Watch: Tucker Carlson repeatedly attacks Medicare and Social Security
Medicare and Social Security have been a heated point of discussion in recent weeks, since President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to call out Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) plan that would sunset the programs, putting them up to regular votes for whether they would continue. There has been a lot of focus in particular on Scott’s plan and similar remarks by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
But the animus on the right against Medicare and Social Security goes beyond sitting officeholders. One of the biggest voices on the right at the moment, Tucker Carlson, who currently holds the 8 p.m. hour on Fox News, has repeatedly attacked the programs over the years. Carlson called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” on Fox News after fearmongering about Social Security and Medicare on both CNN and MSNBC. He’s also repeatedly discussed the programs in various C-SPAN interviews over the years. And Carlson was one of the biggest media defenders of then-President George W. Bush’s Social Security plans.
In one of Carlson’s first appearances on MSNBC in 2005, he touted Bush’s proposal to partially privatize Social Security, agreeing with then-MSNBC host Chris Matthews that Bush’s Social Security plan is a winner because “it is so bold. It’s — just the courage he’ll be given credit for having in taking it on, the third rail, right? He gets — he wins just in talking about it, much less and I also think he may actually get it. This is — again, I go back to the Iraq war. Nobody thought that he could pull it together and he did.”
In June 2005, Carlson railed against Social Security recipients on MSNBC, saying, “I love, though, how the baby boom, now getting old, has decided that it’s immoral to criticize old people now that they’re getting old and that it’s just — there’s something, you know, beyond the pale about suggesting that maybe we ought to raise the retirement age, since life expectancy has gotten so much higher over the years.”
Later that year, Carlson claimed it was time to “reexamine” Social Security, saying on MSNBC: “Social Security takes up a huge portion of the federal budget. And it’s time to reexamine it. I don’t know. Demographics have changed. America has changed. And I think it’s plausible to look at Social Security as a way to cut federal spending a bit. It just is. And I’m just sorry politicians won’t say that out loud.”
Carlson may, like certain Republican politicians, talk more about cultural issues than economic ones these days. But while he likes to fashion himself as a populist warrior, he's got a long history of arguing in favor of upending the social safety net.