80% of House Republicans support plan to cut Social Security, ban abortion, and restrict IVF

80% of House Republicans support plan to cut Social Security, ban abortion, and restrict IVF

Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., center, and members of the Republican Study Committee, from left, Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., and Rep. Eric Burlison R-Mo., meet with reporters to announce their response to President Biden's 2025 budget, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 21, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Isabel Soisson

March 22, 2024

A group made up of 176 House Republicans released a new budget proposal on Wednesday that calls for raising the Social Security retirement age, restructuring Medicare, severely restricting reproductive freedom, and more.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) includes 80% of House Republican lawmakers, many of whom are allies of former president Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for this year’s November election. 

In Iowa, Reps. Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, and Zachary Nunn are part of the RSC. 

The sheer size of the RSC effectively makes the group’s budget document a reliable indicator of where the larger House Republican caucus stands on key issues.

The proposed budget would make cuts to Social Security by raising the retirement age, though it does not specifically say what that new retirement age would be. Benefits would also be reduced for those who earned a “higher salary” before retirement, but again, the budget does not specify what that threshold would be. The budget also claims that there would only be “modest adjustments” to Social Security as it operates now, but does not outline exactly what that means.

Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, an organization that advocates for protecting and expanding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, blasted the budget proposal.

“This budget would raise the retirement age, in line with prominent Republican influencer Ben Shapiro’s recent comments that ‘retirement itself is a stupid idea.’ It would make annual cost-of-living increases stingier, so that benefits erode over time. It would slash middle class benefits,” Altman said in a statement.

“Perhaps most insultingly, given the Republicans’ claim to be the party of ‘family values,’ this budget would eliminate Social Security spousal benefits, as well as children’s benefits, for middle class families.”

The budget also proposes converting Medicare to a premium support model,” a proposal that Republican Paul Ryan, former Speaker of the House, pushed while in power.

Under this model, seniors would instead receive a subsidy they could use on private plans competing against traditional Medicare. This could lead to thousands of dollars in additional out-of-pocket costs for American seniors across the United States, and would siphon Medicare funds to private insurance companies. 

“Premium support ends the Medicare guarantee,” Social Security Works said in June. “Instead, seniors must fend for themselves on the open market with nothing but a coupon to offset as much of the cost of the insurance that they can find.” 

This latest document marks just the latest attempt by congressional Republicans to cut and/or privatize Medicare and Social Security. Previous efforts have failed amid staunch Democratic resistance to such efforts.

Over 600,000 Iowans rely on Social Security and Medicare benefits, and President Joe Biden has repeatedly vowed to protect the programs from cuts.

The RSC’s budget also endorses a series of bills “designed to advance the cause of life,” including the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act,” which would ban abortions after 15 weeks.

“The gift of life is precious and should be protected,” the document states, adding that the “RSC celebrates the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision,” the 2022 Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade.

Fourteen states have banned abortion in virtually all circumstances since the Court struck down Roe, while seven others have imposed severe restrictions, such as six-week bans.

In Iowa, abortion is currently legal until 20 weeks of pregnancy after a district court temporarily blocked a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most people know they are pregnant. That could change soon, however, as Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird filed a brief with the Iowa Supreme Court last fall asking the justices to dissolve the injunction on the abortion ban that was passed by Republicans in July.

The RSC budget also applauds The Life at Conception Act, which would provide 14th amendment protections at all stages of life. This could potentially threaten in-vitro fertilization (IVF) by establishing legal protections for human beings at “the moment of fertilization.”

Last month, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children and that those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death.

Alabama’s state’s government has since passed a law protecting IVF patients and providers from criminal liability, but they did not address the underlying issue of whether embryos were considered people. 

While the ruling only applied to Alabama, it has created a firestorm of controversy and ignited fears of further restrictions on IVF—fears the RSC budget is likely to perpetuate.

The RSC budget also proposes making President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for individuals—which primarily benefited the super rich—permanent. It calls for the elimination of the Community Eligibility Provision from the National School Lunch Program, which helps ensure that millions of children have access to food throughout their school day.

It also proposes cutting funding for rental assistance and programs that help build housing, raising mortgage costs for first-time homebuyers, weakening environmental protections, eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and more. 

President Biden called the RSC’s budget plan “extreme” in a statement issued Thursday. 

The Republican Study Committee budget shows what Republicans value,” the president said. “This extreme budget will cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. It endorses a national abortion ban.” 

Although the proposals laid out in the budget released Wednesday are unlikely to become law this year, they serve as a preview for how Republicans will seek to govern should they be successful in the 2024 elections. 

The RSC document echoes many of the proposals included in Project 2025, an expansive blueprint drawn up by far-right organizations and Trump’s allies that would transform America into a far-right state.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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