House Republican Caucus Calls for Raising the Social Security Retirement Age
Social Security

House Republican Caucus Calls for Raising the Social Security Retirement Age


The Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House, released on Wednesday a 2025 budget proposal that would slash healthcare spending, raise the Social Security retirement age, and balance the budget in seven years.  

The budget has little chance of becoming law but provides a sense of the policies Republicans may pursue if they retain control of the House in 2025, and possibly expand their power to include the Senate and the White House.

Of the many reductions in federal spending outlined in the proposal, the cuts to Social Security have gained the most attention. The RSC, which represents about 80% of Republicans in the House and virtually all of GOP leadership, said lawmakers have “a moral and practical obligation to address the problems with Social Security,” which faces a funding shortfall within a decade.

In the RSC proposal, the retirement age for future beneficiaries would rise and become linked to life expectancy, and benefits would be cut for some wealthy retirees. Over time, the program would move toward a “flat benefit” designed to reduce costs in the long run. Taken as a whole, the proposed changes would reduce spending on Social Security by $1.5 trillion over a decade, Bloomberg’s Jack Fitzpatrick reports.

The Medicare program would move toward a “premium support model” that would provide subsidies within a private market. A similar approach was favored by former House Speaker and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, even amid criticism that it would “end Medicare as we know it,” as former President Barack Obama put it in 2012. The proposed changes would reduce Medicare spending by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

Health insurance subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act would also be rolled back, as would a variety of regulations that seek to control prices within the healthcare system.

Rep. Kevin Hern, chair of the RSC, said the proposal is “proof that it’s possible to balance the budget,” largely with spending cuts. He also portrayed it as a way to save popular programs, warning that the president’s “refusal to address Social Security insolvency will destroy this or any future Congress’ ability to save it for future generations.”

What critics are saying: The White House responded to the budget proposal Thursday. “The Republican Study Committee budget shows what Republicans value,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “This extreme budget will cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. It endorses a national abortion ban. The Republican budget will raise housing costs and prescription drugs costs for families. And it will shower giveaways on the wealthy and biggest corporations.”

Biden vowed to fight the RSC agenda. “Let me be clear: I will stop them,” he said.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the RSC budget proposal “reads like a wish list for Donald Trump and the MAGA hard right,” adding that it “is cruel, it is fringe, way out of line with what most Americans want, but unfortunately it is what the House Republicans envision for our country.”

Rep. Brendan Boyle, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, rejected the Republicans’ approach, and focused on their refusal to consider tax increases as a means for shoring up the finances of popular social welfare programs. “Instead of saving Social Security and Medicare by making billionaires pay their fair share, House Republicans would rather break the sacred promise that every American should be able to retire with dignity,” he said. “This Republican budget is an attack on seniors, veterans, and the middle class. President Biden and Congressional Democrats will fight to ensure it never becomes reality.”

The bottom line: Although neither is likely to become law, the release of budget proposals from the White House and the leading Republican caucus in the House within a two-week period provides a clear view of starkly different ideas about the role of government and how to pay for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.