WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today delivered a speech on the U.S. Senate floor calling on President Biden to honor his pledge to protect Social Security and meet with a bipartisan group of senators currently discussing options to save the program. The Social Security Trust Fund is going insolvent in 9 years, guaranteeing an automatic 24% benefit cut if Congress and President Biden choose not to act.
“To reference President Reagan—now is a time for choosing,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We cannot afford to allow politicians to continue using Social Security as a political weapon to beat up opponents without ever having a plan to address the issue.”
Cassidy pushed U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week on why President Biden has not responded directly to several meeting requests from the bipartisan group. Secretary Yellen repeatedly said, “President Biden stands ready to work with Congress,” to which Cassidy replied, “that’s a lie.” Cassidy referenced that exchange on the Senate floor.
“If President Biden is truly willing to meet with a bipartisan group of senators to fix Social Security, then I apologize for my comments to Secretary Yellen, and I look forward to the meeting. President Biden has a reputation as a dealmaker. Let’s make a deal,” concluded Dr. Cassidy.
Cassidy is leading the bipartisan group with U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME).
Click here to watch Cassidy’s full speech.
Cassidy’s speech as prepared for delivery can be found below:
President Biden submitted his budget proposal to Congress a few weeks ago, but nearly a month after he was legally required to submit it.
Although it was more than a day late, it certainly wasn’t a dollar short.
In fact, it is chock full of wasteful and inflationary spending.
Rather than focusing on the things which should not be in there, I highlight something noticeably absent—his plan to address the looming shortfall in Social Security.
Social Security is going insolvent in 9 years.
What does this mean for Americans who paid into the program with each paycheck and earned their benefit?
The Social Security Trust Fund will not have enough money to pay them what they were promised.
If we allow Social Security to go insolvent, it will trigger an automatic 24 percent benefit across the board for people currently receiving Social Security.
This is current law. And it will double poverty among the elderly in the United States.
If President Biden chooses to do nothing, it guarantees that cut and guarantees elderly poverty will double.
Secretary Yellen spoke before Senate Finance Committee last week.
It was so frustrating.
She held a piece of paper and read it, saying the president stands ready to work with Congress on a solution to Social Security is a lie.
There is no evidence that is true.
I should have been more generous. I should have pointed out that I would like to believe that.
But that has not been our experience.
It has been well reported in the press that there’s a bipartisan group of senators working for a solution to Social Security.
The president knows this.
But we’ve been unable to get an appointment with the president.
The reason we keep requesting a meeting with him is because he has to make the deal.
He has to be the one to tell those who work for him to work with us to save Social Security.
Either the president chooses to do nothing—and that choice guarantees a massive benefit cut, or he chooses to come up with a real plan to save Social Security.
There needs to be a choice between a massive 24 percent benefit cut, which is current law and going to occur, or a real plan to save, strengthen, and secure Social Security. They deserve that much.
To reference President Reagan—now is a time for choosing.
We cannot wait, because the longer we wait, the more expensive and more drastic the solution becomes.
We cannot afford to allow politicians to continue using Social Security as a political weapon to beat up opponents without ever having a plan to address the issue.
It may be good politics, but it’s irresponsible to treat Social Security as a political hot potato.
And I will point out, each one of President Biden’s democratic predecessors—Obama and Clinton—offered serious plans to address this looming fiscal cliff.
Where is his plan? No in his budget.
There should be a sense of urgency—I feel it.
He should feel it.
We have a bipartisan group of senators who have chosen to work to fix Social Security.
And by the way, there has been a lot of partial and inaccurate reporting by some in the media, nothing is final yet.
We have a central principle that we think gets us almost all the way there, but we deliberately left some parts unfinished because we know the president will wish to have input.
We need a novel approach to Social Security that bridges the program to solvency and protects the Americans who rely on it the most.
One of the groups that will be most hurt by a 24 percent cut are the police, firefighters, teachers, and many other state and local government employees who are unfairly penalized by two provisions currently on the books known as WEP and GPO.
Repealing WEP & GPO will be a part of any conversation we have with the president—if he agrees to meet—and will be part of any final proposal.
But Americans of all generations—Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z—want to know that the program they’ve paid into their entire lives will be there for them when they retire.
It’s a political truth that some issues are seen as a “political third rail.”
I would say choosing to cut Social Security benefits by 24% should be the “third rail.”
We cannot be guided by the fear of politics but by the courage of our commitment to the American people.
If President Biden is truly willing to meet with a bipartisan group of senators to fix Social Security, then I apologize for my comments to Secretary Yellen, and I look forward to the meeting.
President Biden has a reputation as a dealmaker.
Let’s make a deal.