President Joe Biden on Wednesday doubled down on attacks against top Republicans who have designs on ending Social Security and Medicare during an appearance in Wisconsin, less than 24 hours after a contentions back-and-forth with GOP audience members during his second State of the Union address.
When Mr Biden spoke in the House chamber on Tuesday, the Republican side of the chamber responded to his reference to a widely publicised GOP plan to “sunset” popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare with a chorus of boos, after which Mr Biden took pains to stress that only “some” on the GOP side of the aisle have issued such a proposal.
At the time, the president said he wouldn’t name the members in question, but Mr Biden’s remarks clearly pointed to Florida Senator Rick Scott, who last year authored a GOP Senate agenda document which called for all federal legislation to require renewal every five years.
A day later, the president took direct aim at Mr Scott and some of his GOP colleagues by calling them out by name during a speech to union members in DeForest, Wisconsin.
“Many of you have seen we’ve had a spirited debate last night with my Republican friends … they seem shocked when I raised the plans of some of their members and their caucus to cut Social Security, and Marjorie Taylor Greene and others stood up and said ‘liar, liar,’” he said, recalling the heckling he dealt with during his speech the previous night.
“Well, guess what? You know, I remind you that Rick Scott from Florida, the guy who ran the US Senate campaign, has a plan. I got his brochure right here … here’s what he says. He says all federal legislation sunsets every five years. If the law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” he said while reading from Mr Scott’s document.
He added that the Badger State’s senior senator, Ron Johnson, has endorsed a similar plan to put all Social Security and Medicare spending into the regular appropriations process instead of treating it as mandatory spending under current law.
Mr Biden then noted that another senator, Utah Republican Mike Lee, had also been vocal about calling him a liar during his speech after he said Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare.
He said there had been a video circulating on social media depicting Mr Lee expressing a desire to end the New Deal and Great Society-era programmes during his first run for the Senate in 2010.
“They played last night, something I didn’t even know existed — a video of him saying, ‘I’m here right now to tell you one thing you probably never heard from a politician. It’ll be my objective to phase out so security. Pull up by the roots and get rid of it,’” he said.
He added that the same video showed Mr Lee describing Medicare and Medicaid — federal programs for senior citizen health care and health insurance for the indigent — as “the same sort” and saying they “need to be pulled up”.
“Sounds pretty clear to me … but they sure didn’t like me calling them on it,” he said, adding that “a lot of Republcans” have a “dream … to cut Social Security and Medicare”.
“Well, let me just say this: It’s your dream, but my veto pen will make it a nightmare,” he said.
Continuing, the president told the union workers that the “bottom line” was that “all” of them had been “paying into the system every single paycheck you’ve had since you started working”.
“These benefits belong to you, the American worker you’re earned and I will not allow anyone to cut them. Not today. Not tomorrow, not ever,” he said.