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Top Republican Senate candidates are endorsed by foes of Social Security and Medicare

The future of social safety net programs could depend on U.S. Senate races in Montana, Pennsylvania, and Nevada in 2024.

By Jesse Valentine - November 08, 2023
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Tim Sheehy
Tim Sheehy, founder of Bridger Aerospace and Ascent Vision, pauses during a tour of the company’s facility on Friday, Aug. 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Mont. Sheehy announced Tuesday, June 27, 2023, that he’ll seek the 2024 GOP nomination to challenge Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. (Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

Tim Sheehy, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Montana, lists protecting Social Security and Medicare as some of his top priorities on his campaign website, but he’s backed by a group committed to cutting both programs.

Sheehy is one of several 2024 GOP candidates endorsed by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative dark money group founded by Charles Koch and the late David Koch. The group has spent more than $185 million to elect Republicans since 2015.

Other prominent endorsees include U.S. Senate candidates David McCormick in Pennsylvania and Sam Brown in Nevada. If nominated, Sheehy, McCormick, and Brown will face incumbent Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). 

In October 2023, Americans for Prosperity signed a letter urging Congress to repeal the Medicare price negotiation program included in the Inflation Reduction Act. The program is responsible for capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin for Medicare recipients at $35 a month. It was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

In 2022, Americans for Prosperity called for major changes to Social Security, including raising the retirement age, cutting benefits, and means-testing recipients. The group has received large donations from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade group for Big Pharma.

Sheehy has referred to Biden’s economic priorities, which include allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs, as “bad economics.” 

McCormick has called for totally repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, saying: “What happened under Biden, with these huge, enormous pieces of legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which, there’s never been a more misnamed piece of legislation in history, which is pork belly corporate welfare. We’ve got to roll that back.”

In 2022, Brown said Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s proposal to automatically sunset Social Security and Medicare every five years would lead to a “better America.”

In addition to the Americans for Prosperity endorsements, Brown and Sheehy have both accepted donations from another Koch-affiliated group: In September, Koch Industries PAC gave $3,500 to Brown and $2,500 to Sheehy.

Representatives for Brown’s, Sheehy’s, and McCormick’s campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

Tester, the Democratic incumbent in Montana, was a fierce proponent of the Medicare prescription drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Montanans should never have to make the choice between life-saving medication or putting food on the table,” Tester said in August 2023, ““I am proud to have stood tough against large pharmaceutical corporations and successfully demand that they stop unnecessarily jacking up prices on folks across the state. Montanans sent me to Washington to deliver results, and I will continue to take on anyone to lower costs.”

Casey and Rosen also supported the Inflation Reduction Act.

Sheehy, McCormick, and Brown will need to win state primaries to secure their party’s nominations. Pennsylvania’s primary is in April 2024. The Nevada and Montana primaries are scheduled for June.


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