Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa, on Thursday reiterated his support for keeping Social Security and Medicare intact amid long-term solvency concerns, but said there may be a “better program” to consider for future beneficiaries.
The West Virginia Democrat — and the leading vote in the Senate — signaled his opposition to cuts in Social Security and health care. But in an interview on FOX News on Thursday, he also did not shut the door to finding another way to help future beneficiaries.
GOP critics of Manchin, who is up for re-election in 2024, seized the statement as evidence that he wants cuts. But the senator’s office tried to destroy that line of attack, saying Manchin continues to oppose cuts to current and future beneficiaries.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that cuts to either program are off the table amid the approaching debt ceiling deadline.
The West Virginia Democrat — and the leading vote in the Senate — signaled Thursday that it was open to cuts in Social Security and health care, even as President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that cuts to either program are not on the table. amid the impending debt ceiling deadline.
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What did Manchin say?
Manchin made it clear that he is not willing to cut benefits for the millions of Americans currently dependent on entitlement programs. But he wondered if there was a smarter, more affordable way to secure retirement funds for younger Americans.
“I just think, ‘Is there a better program? Is there a better way for younger people to invest and have something for retirement?’ Manchin said on FOX Business Thursday, “You have to look at everything. How do you hold on to what you have?”
Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon told USA TODAY that “Manchin’s track record in Medicare and Social Security protections is crystal clear and he reiterated his continued support for both programs when he spoke with Neil Cavuto today.”
Runyon added, “This quote taken completely out of context is a desperate attempt to muddy the waters, but West Virginians know that no one has fought harder to protect their benefits than Joe Manchin.”
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Why does it matter?
Party leaders on both sides of the aisle have vowed not to touch the two entitlement programs after Biden publicly cornered Republicans on Social Security and Medicare for calling for budget cuts amid debt ceiling negotiations now that the deadline is fast approaching.
Currently, both programs’ trust funds are in deficit as the number of retired Americans far exceeds the programs’ tax revenues to fund the promised benefits — threatening the future of each program. Doing nothing could mean its downfall, analysts argue.
Social Security is expected to go bankrupt in about ten years. Without legislative action, benefits would automatically be cut by an average of 23% by 2033, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s December 2022 report on the program.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Better Social Security, Medicare options may be available, says Manchin