Pence: ‘We’ve got to have a conversation’ about reforming Social Security

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Former Vice President Mike Pence said a conversation needs to be had about reforming Social Security, a remark that comes as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has asserted that cuts to that program and Medicare will not be considered as part of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

Yahoo News reported Friday that Pence, who has indicated that he is considering a 2024 run for the White House, discussed possible reforms to Social Security while speaking to an audience at a meeting of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. The outlet received footage of Pence’s remarks from the Democratic tracking group American Bridge 21st Century.

Saying that 70 percent of what the federal government spends is on entitlement programs, which provide financial assistance to certain groups of people, Pence asserted, “And the truth is we’ve got to have a conversation.”

Pence said he was involved when former President George W. Bush attempted to reform Social Security with a plan to partially privatize it in 2005. Bush’s proposal did not advance to become law, as he could not gather the necessary support in Congress.

The former vice president said the country needs the type of leaders who can tell older Americans that “nothing’s going to change” for them with Social Security reform, but it will give younger people a better choice going forward and be better for the country.

“I think it’s absolutely essential that we generate leadership in this country that’ll be straight with the American people, that will take us off this trajectory of massive debt that we’re piling on the backs of those grandchildren, and says there’s a way back,” he said.

Pence’s comments come as Democratic and Republican lawmakers are facing off over negotiations to raise the country’s debt limit.

Republicans, led by McCarthy, have insisted that spending cuts are needed and must be agreed to for the GOP to vote to raise the ceiling. The Biden administration has called for a “clean” bill to raise it.

McCarthy made an agreement with some of those who were slow to support his leadership role in the House that he would push for spending cuts in defense. He said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that cuts for Social Security and Medicare are “off the table,” however.

“There are modest reforms in entitlements that can be done without disadvantaging anybody at the point of the need,” Pence said in his remarks.

He said enabling young Americans to put part of their Social Security withholdings into a private savings account overseen by the government would allow the country to “replace the New Deal with a better deal.” Social Security was created in the 1930s as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to address the Great Depression.

Pence said putting some withholdings into a private fund that could generate 2 percent more than current Social Security accounts would double what people are getting back from Social Security and help the government save money.

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