U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst seemed open to restructuring popular programs like Medicare and Social Security, according to an audio recording of the Iowa senator obtained by Starting Line.
The 55-second clip includes a conversation Ernst had on March 7, 2019, at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.
She was asked her thoughts on Georgia Sen. David Perdue’s longstanding efforts to limit spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a way of driving down annual deficits and the nation’s ever-growing debt.
In the clip, an unknown man asks Ernst: “It is interesting hearing your classmate David Perdue has been pretty frank about the changes that need to happen to Medicare and Medicaid. Are you on the same page with him on that?”
“I think we all are because we understand that our non-discretionary spending is growing like this,” Ernst replied, referring to entitlement programs that include things like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are automatically renewed every year. “Everyone focuses on discretionary spending because that is what we can control in Congress. The rest is on autopilot and is out of control. We have to figure out ways to honor the commitments that have been made, but make changes for the future. How we do that, I don’t know.”
Described as an “outspoken advocate for budget and spending reform,” in June 2019 Perdue introduced a bill to totally rework congressional budgeting practices, including efforts to “switch mandatory spending programs such as Social Security and Medicare to discretionary programs,” according to a June 12, 2019, report in The Hill.
This is not the first time in recent memory Ernst has made interesting comments on entitlement reform.
In the fall of 2019, Ernst said at a town hall meeting in Emmet County that politicians should “sit down behind closed doors” to hash out changes to Social Security.
The uncovering of her comments at the 2019 fundraiser comes at a time when Trump’s $4.8 trillion 2021 budget proposal “includes a familiar list of deep cuts to student loan assistance, affordable housing efforts, food stamps, and Medicaid,” according to the New York Times.
We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country’s greatest ever Economy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
“All together, it proposed combined cuts to spending in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act subsidies that equal a trillion dollars — cuts that would mean substantial program changes,” the Times reported.
Forbes reported on Monday that Trump’s budget proposal reduces Medicare spending by a total of $756 billion between 2021 and 2030, a decrease of 7%. The proposal reduces Medicaid spending over the next 10 years by 16%, Forbes reported, and cuts tens of millions of dollars from two of Social Security’s disability programs.
Though Trump’s budget proposal will likely not be adopted in its entirety — these documents serve more as a guidepost for the administration’s priorities rather than actual measures Congress will adopt — the top-line takeaways do not reflect well on a president who promised on the campaign trail to safeguard Medicare and Social Security. Since he took office, his budget proposals have been in direct contrast to those promises.
I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
By Elizabeth Meyer