Mitch McConnell may become the Senate majority leader following the next election, and he has stated unequivocally that Social Security will not be jeopardized.
If you’re worried about the future of Social Security, it’s important to understand what elected officials have said. That is because those in positions of leadership at the federal level have the potential to make changes that affect senior benefits.
Currently, Democrats control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. The majority of left-leaning lawmakers have expressed unwavering support for expanding Social Security and uniform opposition to any benefit cuts. However, following the November midterm elections, it is entirely possible that control of the House or Senate will change hands.
If Republicans recapture the Senate majority, current Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will almost certainly become majority leader. That is why McConnell’s quote about Social Security is so critical.
The potential future majority leader has made it abundantly clear where he stands on Social Security.
Mitch McConnell recently addressed the question of the future of Social Security, stating, “If we have the good fortune to win a majority next year, I will serve as majority leader. I’ll decide what to put on the floor in consultation with my members. We will not include a bill on our agenda that increases taxes on half of the American population and sunsets Social Security and Medicare after five years.”
McConnell’s quote was in response to Senator Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Scott authored “An 11-Point Plan to Rescue America,” which he described as a road map for what the Republican Party might do if it gained control of Congress. Among other things, Scott’s plan called for all federal legislation to expire after five years, requiring Congress to reauthorize it if it was critical.
This would have the effect of requiring Congress to vote on Social Security and Medicare reauthorizations on a regular basis. It would create significant uncertainty for seniors and could create problems for future retirees, who would no longer be able to rely on Social Security.
McConnell, however, rejected this plan, implying that a Republican Senate majority would not pose a serious immediate threat to Social Security.
Is entitlement reform off the table now?
McConnell’s remarks are significant because they appear to reflect a recent shift in the Republican Party.
Social Security reform has long been a priority for the right, with many Republican lawmakers expressing concern about the program’s financial health. Historically, while the left advocated for Social Security expansion, conservative lawmakers routinely proposed changes that amounted to a de facto benefit cut. These included raising the retirement age or altering the formula for calculating raises in order to make cost-of-living adjustments less generous.
Former President Donald Trump, on the other hand, took a more populist stance and stated that he was opposed to Social Security cuts that would leave seniors with less money. McConnell’s assurances that Social Security would not be subject to sunsetting could indicate that other Republicans have embraced this shift and that Social Security cuts are no longer a priority – or even a Republican goal.
If that is the case and this trend continues, current and future retirees may have a greater sense of assurance that they will receive all of the promised retirement benefits.