Cassidy: Speaker Johnson doing ‘a fantastic job’

Published 10:15 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., stands in support of Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried and failed Wednesday to oust Johnson, citing qualms with him over the passage of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act extension and a series of foreign aid bills allocating $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as a bipartisan collaboration to avoid a government shutdown.

Cassidy said during a Wednesday news conference that he believes Johnson has been doing a “fantastic job.”

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“Mike’s good efforts to get something done will defeat the power of negativity that doesn’t want anything to be done to benefit our country,” he said.

Social Security

The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds released their annual report on Monday, and the outlook is stormy.

The report indicates Social Security in its current state will become insolvent by 2033. Additionally, the Medicare Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2036.

The Social Security insolvency will lead to a 21 percent benefit cut for all current and future beneficiaries, Cassidy said during the press call.

“Just like last year, the report confirms what I’ve been saying for several years now; Social Security is going insolvent within the next decade. … I don’t think that a senior in the United States of America should have to choose between buying food or medication.”

He criticized the Biden administration’s response to the looming shortfall. In a recent news release from Cassidy’s office, it was stated U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen “admitted to Cassidy during a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing” the Biden does not have a plan to address Social Security insolvency.

Earlier this week, the White House released Biden’s statement regarding the Trustees report. He stated his plan to extend Medicare solvency permanently includes “asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and lowering prescription drug costs.” Similarly, his plan to extend Social Security solvency involved “asking the highest-income Americans to pay their fair share without cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security.”

Cassidy said the Biden administration has not formally introduced any legislation addressing Social Security and Medicare insolvency.

“I think President Biden is using it as a campaign talking point,” he said. “He has publicly stated, or his assistant has, that they don’t have a plan to do so. I’m about having a plan to do so.”

He also noted that introducing a plan that hinges on higher taxes for the rich is not reasonable in practice.

“If you put what is effectively a 12 percent tax on people above a certain income level, they’re going to find a way to avoid that tax. … So it has to look good not just on paper, but it has to also look good in reality.”

This plan has been deemed “The Big Idea” by Cassidy and his colleagues. The idea would repeal the automatic benefits cut, and invest $1.5 trillion dollars over five years into an investment fund separate from the Social Security trust fund. The money would be invested into the U.S. Economy. After five years, any dividends would be reinvested and kept in escrow for 70 years.

Cassidy also plans to repeal the Windfall Elimination Program, the Government Pension Offset and Retirement Earnings Test.

These actions, along with “some relatively minor tweaks to the program,” would ensure the accumulated debt is paid off, he said.

Biden said in his statement that Congress Republicans’ proposed changes – cut Social Security by $1.5 trillion, increase the retirement age, raise prescription drug costs and “transition Medicare to a system that would raise premiums for many seniors” –  are “cruel and unnecessary.”

“I will always fight for America’s seniors and prevent Republicans from cutting Social Security and Medicare,” he said.