Congress should reject any effort by lawmakers to slash funding for Social Security and Medicare in order to reduce the nation's ballooning budget deficit, AARP said Wednesday.
"Targeting Social Security and Medicare to pay down the national debt is the wrong approach and is strongly opposed by older Americans, regardless of party affiliation," the group said in a news release. It noted that 85% of individuals age 50 or older "strongly oppose" slashing those benefits in order to help reduce the budget deficit.
A group of conservative Republicans recently called for cutting $14 trillion in spending over the next decade in order to help offset the nation's unprecedented level of spending. The Republican Study Committee, a conservative GOP House Caucus, proposed a budget last week that would slash $2.5 trillion from current Medicare projections, $3.3 trillion from other health programs including Medicaid and trim $3.5 trillion from other mandatory social safety programs.
Discretionary spending would drop by $3.5 trillion under their proposed budget.
"While older Americans care about the nation’s long-term fiscal health, we also know they want to make sure the promises made to all Americans regarding Social Security and Medicare are honored," AARP said. "Indeed, Social Security and Medicare had little to do with the recent run-up of debt and deficits in the wake of COVID-19."
Over the course of the past year, Congress approved nearly $6 trillion, or roughly 27.1% of the nation's GDP, in coronavirus relief spending, including $4 trillion passed under former President Donald Trump.
To put that into perspective, the U.S. has spent roughly the same amount of money in the past year to confront the duel health and economic crises than it did on every war across the world in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks (about $6.4 trillion), according to one analysis conducted by Brown University's Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs.
The exorbitant level of spending caused the nation's deficit to surge to a record-shattering $1.7 trillion for the first half of the 2021 fiscal year. The deficit for the first half of the budget year, from October through March, was up from $743.5 billion in the year-ago period, the Treasury Department said at the beginning of April.
And even though the national debt is on track to hit $30 trillion by the end of 2021, Biden and congressional Democrats are plowing ahead with attempting to pass the president's nearly $4 trillion Build Back Better agenda, which is comprised of the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.