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Top Republican U.S. Senate candidates call for gutting Social Security

In Pennsylvania, wealthy businessman David McCormick says the program is too costly to sustain.

By Jesse Valentine - January 31, 2024
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Dave McCormick
FILE - Dave McCormick, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, meets with attendees during a campaign event in Warminster, Pa., March 7, 2022. Millionaire candidates and billionaire investors are harnessing their considerable personal wealth to try to win competitive Republican primaries for open U.S. Senate seats in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin has contributed millions to a super PAC supporting McCormick. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

On Jan. 31, 1940, Ida May Fuller of Vermont received the first ever Social Security check. For 84 years, the program has kept older Americans out of poverty. But now, multiple Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate are threatening to dismantle the program.

In Michigan, all three of the leading Republican candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat have shown a willingness to cut Social Security and other federal aid programs. In May 2023, former Rep. Mike Rogers claimed Social Security was in need of a major overhaul.

“If  you deserve it, you should have it,” Rogers said. “But if you don’t deserve it, we don’t want to risk people who have worked their whole lives, paid into the system, and can’t get what they paid in. I think we have to do that and then we’re going to have to say every option is going to have to be on the table. If you’re 3 years old today and your life expectancy is 110, we’re just going to have a rethink about what work looks like and what retirement looks like.”

In November, former Rep. Peter Meijer told WJR radio that cutting Social Security would be necessary to address the national debt.

“We need to be looking at our entitlements,” Meijer said, “because you can get all of our discretionary spending in line, and we will still be spending far more than we’re taking in because Congress has, you know, just completely ignored trying to make, trying to get to the point where Social Security Medicare Medicaid don’t go bankrupt.”

Businessman Sandy Pensler, who previously ran for senate in 2018, listed reforming entitlements as a priority on his campaign website. 

Michigan’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2024.

The leading Republican candidates for senate in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have also called for overhauling Social Security. 

Wealthy businessman David McCormick, who is hoping to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, has repeatedly claimed Social Security is unsubstantiable and should not be promised to future generations.

“I don’t think my kids are going to be able to live under the same entitlements that all of us that are here,” McCormick said in 2022. “We have to face that reality and do two things at the same time: keep our promises to people we made them to, and change our entitlements in a way that are defensible and fundable into the future.”

Bank executive Eric Hovde, who is expected to soon announce a senate campaign in Wisconsin, made similar remarks in 2012.

“The retirement age is still 65, life expectancy is 79. So my view on Social Security is real simple,” Hovde said. “If you’re 50 or older we’re not going to touch it. If you’re under 50 you’re going to add two years to retirement age. If you’re under 40 you’re going to add two more years and if you’re under 30 you’re probably going to have to add another year.”

Multiple incumbent Republican senators have also put Social Security in the crosshairs. In 2010, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz once referred to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. In 2022, Florida Sen. Rick Scott introduced the “Rescue America” plan, which would have required all federal programs to be reauthorized by Congress every five years, including Medicare and Social Security.

In Nevada, Republican senate candidate Sam Brown said Scott’s proposal would lead to a “better America.”

Approximately 67 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.


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