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Pence calls for ‘common sense’ reforms to Social Security, Medicare

The Hill logo The Hill 3/22/2023 Stephen Neukam
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Former Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday called for “common sense” reforms to federal entitlement programs, namely Social Security and Medicare, weighing in on what is set to be a wedge issue in the 2024 presidential campaign.

“If we act in this moment with the support of this generation, we can introduce common sense reforms that will never touch anyone who is in retirement, or anyone who will retire in the next 25 years,” Pence told an audience of college students at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. “It’ll just take courage to do it, and that’s where your generation will come in.”

The debate over entitlement reforms reignited in the face of the looming debt ceiling fight in Washington, with Republicans wanting commitments on spending cuts from the White House before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. Republican leadership has not detailed what they would be willing to cut, but Democrats have set off warning signals that GOP lawmakers want to make cuts to entitlement programs.

Cutting such programs is a non-starter for most Democrats, and the debate has split potential presidential hopefuls on the Republican side. Former President Trump has forcefully come out against the idea of cuts to Medicare and Social Security, saying on the campaign trail that he would not be touching the programs.

Pence, who has yet to announce whether he is running for the White House in 2024, on Tuesday took a veiled jab at Trump without mentioning the former president’s name, saying Trump and others’ unwillingness to consider reforms to entitlement programs should be something that “infuriates” young voters.

“President Biden won’t even discuss common sense reforms of Social Security and Medicare, and too many leaders in my political party take the same position,” Pence said. “If that frustrates you, good — it should, because it’ll be your generation that’s robbed of your dreams and opportunities.”

Pence did not specify exactly what “common sense” reforms he was endorsing.

The White House responded to Pence’s comments, saying Republicans are “flat wrong” about cuts to entitlement programs.

“Mike Pence — and congressional Republicans — are flat wrong about cutting Medicare and banning abortion,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement to Politico.

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