GOP Senate candidates’ records suggest they’d back cuts to Social Security and Medicare

By Kyle Kaminski

March 14, 2024

Ex-President Donald Trump expressed openness to cutting Medicare and Social Security.  In Michigan, three Republican Senate candidates have records suggesting they’d support cuts to the programs.

MICHIGAN—Three Republican candidates running to represent Michigan in the US Senate have voiced support for slashing Social Security or Medicare benefits, which more than 2 million Michiganders rely on to afford housing, utility bills, groceries, prescription drugs, and more.

Among them:

Former US Reps. Mike Rogers, Peter Meijer, and Justin Amash—all of whom are GOP candidates in the Aug. 6 primary election.

Here’s the deal:

Former President Donald Trump this week expressed openness to cutting Social Security and Medicare. During a Monday appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Trump said “there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting,” referencing possible cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Trump has a long history of opposition to the programs. He once supported raising the retirement age and privatizing Social Security, which he described as a “Ponzi scheme.” He also proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare every year he was in the White House.

His most recent suggestion was met with sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle—including from Michigan retirees who have spent decades paying into both programs throughout their careers. Facing backlash, Trump has since backpedaled, telling Breitbart News on Thursday that he would never do anything to “jeopardize or hurt Social Security or Medicare.” 

Michigan seniors are nonetheless sounding the alarm over the threat Trump poses to the programs. 

“Michigan workers deserve to be able to retire with dignity, but a second Trump administration would threaten that ability,” Jim Pedersen, president of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, said at a press conference this week. “If Trump gets his way, he would strip funding for these programs and cut the benefits that serve as lifelines for seniors across our state.”

With President Joe Biden in office, Social Security is safe. But if Trump wins in November and if enough Republicans are elected to office, those benefits could again be at risk of being cut.

What’s going on in Michigan? 

Several Republicans are running for a chance to take control of a Senate seat that has been held for decades by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Here’s where some of the leading GOP candidates stand on Social Security and Medicare:

Mike Rogers

Former Republican US Rep. Mike Rogers announced his Senate campaign in September. 

When asked about what he will do to protect Social Security benefits during a candidate forum last year in New Hampshire, Rogers said the federal government should “rethink what retirement looks like” and also suggested that the retirement age may need to be increased

“Every option is going to have to be on the table,” Rogers said.

During his time in Congress, Rogers voted in support of a federal budget plan that sought to replace Medicare’s guarantee of coverage with a voucher-based program, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and shift substantial treatment costs to Medicare beneficiaries. Under this plan, Michigan seniors would have had to spend more out-of-pocket on healthcare expenses. 

Rogers also voted in support of legislation to limit prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients, and voted against giving Medicare the the power to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with drug companies—something that was later accomplished through a provision in President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. 

Trump has since endorsed Rogers for his “career loaded up with accolades and wins.”

Peter Meijer

Former Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, an heir to the eponymous multi-billion-dollar grocery store chain, announced his campaign for Senate in November. 

During a recent radio appearance, Meijer, like Trump, referred to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements” rather than hard-earned benefits, noting that the federal government needs to make changes to both programs to prevent them from becoming insolvent in the future.

“Congress has, you know, just completely ignored trying to make, trying to get to the point where Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid don’t go bankrupt,” Meijer said. 

While Meijer and some other Republicans have endorsed raising the retirement age or reducing benefits to address the programs’ long-term solvency, the Biden administration has proposed raising taxes on the wealthy in an effort to protect the programs in the long run.  

Justin Amash

Former US Rep. Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party in 2019 after calling for Trump’s impeachment, announced a Republican bid for Michigan’s US Senate seat last month. 

He represented Grand Rapids from 2011 to 2021, and voted in support of budget bills that would’ve raised the retirement age for Social Security. He also voted in support of Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut, the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which increased the federal deficit—the growth of which threatens future funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and more.

So what?

More than 2 million seniors in Michigan currently rely on Social Security and Medicare to afford housing, utility bills, groceries, and life-saving prescription medications, among other things. 

In contrast with Trump’s latest plan, President Joe Biden has pledged to continue protecting both Medicare and Social Security to ensure those benefits are available for retiring seniors.

Biden’s latest budget proposal also includes detailed plans to protect and strengthen both programs for the long-term future—including by rejecting any and all proposals to slash benefits, as well as requiring those with the highest incomes to pay more into both of the programs. 

In the Senate race, the winner of the Republican primary election will face off against a Democrat for the seat in November. US Rep. Elissa Slotkin is widely viewed as the frontrunner on the Democratic side.

Slotkin supports protecting both Medicare and Social Security benefits—evidenced most obviously by an endorsement from the Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Earlier this year, she also co-sponsored legislation to modernize the Social Security system by streamlining the claims process, increasing asset limits, and setting new minimum benefits. 

READ MORE: Rogers tries to distance Senate campaign from past attempts to ban IVF 

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

CATEGORIES: GOP ACCOUNTABILITY

Politics

MI Grand Rapids Food Voting

Local News

Related Stories
Share This