Biden Pledges to Safeguard Social Security, Medicare, and Ensure Wealthy Contribute Equitably in State of the Union Address

President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of safeguarding Social Security and Medicare for seniors during his annual State of the Union address on Thursday, issuing a firm pledge to thwart any attempts to cut benefits or raise the retirement age.

“If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop them,” Biden declared.

This commitment from the president comes against the backdrop of looming electoral competition, with former president Donald Trump poised as a potential rival in the upcoming November polls. While Trump has expressed no intention to tamper with Social Security, former Republican candidate Nikki Haley floated the idea of raising the retirement age during her campaign.

Both Social Security and Medicare are at critical junctures. Social Security’s trust funds are projected to be depleted within the next decade, likely by 2034, at which point only 80% of benefits will be payable, according to the program’s trustees. Similarly, Medicare’s hospital insurance fund, designated for Medicare Part A, may run dry by 2031.

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House Republicans propose a bipartisan commission to address Social Security and Medicare solvency. (Credits: Corporate Finance Institute)

In a bid to address the funding shortfall facing Social Security, Biden proposed raising the annual payroll tax cap, currently set at $168,600 in wages, to ensure that the wealthy contribute their fair share.

A recent analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research revealed that workers with $1 million in gross annual wage income stopped contributing to Social Security on March 2 after hitting the taxable maximum for the year. In contrast, most workers have Social Security payroll taxes deducted from their paychecks throughout the year.

“Working people who built this country pay more into Social Security than millionaires and billionaires do,” Biden remarked. “It’s not fair.”

Democrats have put forth bills advocating for the application of the Social Security payroll tax to earnings exceeding $250,000 or $400,000, along with proposals to raise taxes on investment income.

“It’s time to act, it’s time to vote, not only to protect Social Security but to expand benefits that haven’t been expanded in more than 50 years,” asserted Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., in a post-State of the Union speech.

Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act, which seeks to ensure the program’s solvency, currently boasts 183 Democratic co-sponsors in the House.

While Biden has not outlined a specific plan to address Social Security’s solvency during his presidency, his campaign platform advocated for applying the payroll tax to wages exceeding $400,000 while enhancing benefits, particularly for lower-income individuals.

The White House has also proposed raising the Medicare tax rate for incomes above $400,000, alongside measures to close loopholes allowing certain high-income individuals and businesses to evade these taxes.

During the State of the Union address, Biden didn’t mince words regarding the alleged Republican agenda for these vital programs.

“Republicans will cut Social Security and give more tax cuts to the wealthy,” Biden asserted.

Ahead of the State of the Union, House Republicans moved forward with a 2025 budget proposal that includes the formation of a bipartisan fiscal commission tasked with assessing the solvency issues of Social Security and Medicare.

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Advocates express concern over potential benefit cuts through a fast-track fiscal commission process. (Credits: The Motley Food)

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget commended this step toward establishing a commission to address the unsustainable growth of the national debt.

However, advocates for Social Security and Medicare express concerns that this process might result in benefit reductions.

“The commission is designed to slash vital earned benefits through a fast-track, closed-door process, intended to allow Republicans to avoid political accountability,” remarked Nancy Altman, president of the advocacy group Social Security Works.

During Thursday’s address, Biden also highlighted other initiatives aimed at assisting seniors, such as expanding Medicare negotiations to include a broader range of medications, from the current target of 20 per year to 50 per year, and implementing minimum staffing levels for nursing homes.

“In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Biden unequivocally positioned himself in support of American seniors and the programs they rely on,” stated Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Jackson Kelley
Jackson Kelley
Jackson is a political activist and market expert. He covers the impact of politics on the market and global economy.
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