Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) called out Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday for defending President Joe Biden’s narrative on Social Security.
What is the background?
The president single-handedly has made Social Security funding a top issue in recent months because he has claimed repeatedly, without evidence, that Republicans want to slash social safety net spending.
Now, Republicans are using Biden’s $6.8 trillion budget proposal against him, highlighting the fact that Biden has not accounted for insolvency issues with Social Security. Not taking into consideration the funding problems is akin to a cut, because if the programs are not funded, the money dries up and people lose benefits.
What happened with Yellen?
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Cassidy asked Yellen about Social Security’s insolvency issues and why Biden has not proposed a solution.
The Louisiana Republican began his questioning by highlighting that Social Security is slated to go “broke” in nine years, which will result in a 24% cut in benefits for recipients. When Yellen agreed and claimed Biden that wants to “strengthen” Social Security, Cassidy turned to his budget proposal.
“In the $4.5 trillion of taxes the president has proposed, are any of those taxes going to shore up Social Security?” he asked. He proceeded to answer the question himself, saying that a review of Biden’s proposal shows he has not accounted for insolvency issues.
“Why doesn’t the president care?” Cassidy asked.
“He cares very deeply,” Yellen answered.
“Then where is his plan?” Cassidy interjected.
“He stands ready to work with Congress —” Yellen began before Cassidy interjected.
“That’s a lie!” the senator fired back. “Because when a bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly requested to meet with him about Social [Security], so that someone who is a current beneficiary will not see her benefits cut by 24%, we have not heard anything on our request,” Cassidy said.
“We’ve made multiple requests to meet with the president. Now you can’t comment on that. I realize that, but that is a fact,” he continued. “If you’ve been told to say, ‘He stands ready to meet’ — I will tell you there’s absolutely no evidence because we have not gotten our meeting.”
Cassidy Questions Secretary Yellen on Social Security During Finance Committee Hearing
Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D) later chided Cassidy. The Oregon Democrat advised that “accusing witnesses of lying” is “over the line.”
Cassidy responded with a spirit of contrition, but reiterated that it’s not true that Biden is willing to meet with Congress because a bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly asked him to meet without agreement from the White House.
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