‘It’ll Just Take Courage’: Pence Calls for ‘Common Sense’ Reforms to Social Security, Medicare

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Former vice president Mike Pence on Tuesday called for “common sense reforms” to Social Security and Medicare to maintain their solvency for years to come.

“If we act in this moment with the support of this generation, we can introduce common sense reforms that will never touch anyone who is in retirement, or anyone who will retire in the next 25 years,” Pence said while speaking at Washington and Lee University. 

“It’ll just take courage to do it, and that’s where your generation will come in,” he told the crowd of college students.

Pence, who is seen as a likely 2024 presidential contender, did not elaborate what “common sense” reforms he would like to see.

Pence’s comments break from former president Donald Trump, who called on Republican lawmakers not to “cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security” when they began negotiations with President Biden and Democrats over a measure to raise the debt ceiling in January.

“Cut waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there is plenty of it. . . . But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security. Don’t destroy it,” Trump said at the time.

Pence criticized this position on Tuesday without mentioning Trump by name. 

“President Biden won’t even discuss common sense reforms of Social Security and Medicare, and too many leaders in my political party take the same position,” Pence said. “If that frustrates you, good — it should, because it’ll be your generation that’s robbed of your dreams and opportunities.”

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates responded to Pence’s comments in a statement to Politico calling Pence and congressional Republicans “flat wrong about cutting Medicare and banning abortion.”

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley also called for reform recently and suggested it is “unrealistic to say you’re not going to touch entitlements.” She floated the idea of raising the retirement age for younger Americans in order to preserve Social Security and Medicare benefits.

“The first thing you do is you change the retirement age of the young people coming up so that we can try and have some sort of system for them,” Haley said during a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this month. “It’s the new ones coming in. It’s those in their 20s that are coming in. You’re coming to them and you’re saying, ‘The game has changed. We’re going to do this completely differently.’”

Meanwhile, Trump’s advisers reportedly believe Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s track record of voting to cut funding for Social Security and Medicare as a congressman is ripe for criticism, per the Washington Examiner. DeSantis, who is also widely seen as a likely 2024 contender, voted for three nonbinding resolutions between 2013 and 2015 that called for raising the retirement age to 70 and reducing benefits for millions of earners.

However, the governor seemed to walk back his previous support for raising the retirement age as well as privatizing Social Security earlier this month. “We’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans,” he told Fox News. “I think that that’s pretty clear.”

A YouGov poll in January found that Democrats and Republicans both view Social Security and Medicare more favorably than not. Eighty-nine percent of Americans who personally receive Social Security benefits have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the program, while 84 percent of Medicare benefit recipients said the same.

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