Ken Buck: Pence is the ‘first’ POTUS candidate to admit saving Social Security means entitlement reform

Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence points to an audience member as he speaks during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Ken Buck: Pence is the ‘first’ POTUS candidate to admit saving Social Security means entitlement reform

DENVER — While Colorado Republican Ken Buck continued to blast House leadership for passing the bipartisan debt ceiling bill, the congressman had some praise for Mike Pence‘s willingness to touch the third rail of politics: entitlements.

“If we want to save Social Security, save Medicare, save those programs, and reduce the debt and the trajectory we’re on, we’ve got to start working on those government programs,” Buck said while headlining the Western Conservative Summit. “Now, for the first time ever, I heard a candidate for president say we need to work on this, and that was Mike Pence on his town hall the other night. But other than that, nobody has talked about the real important thing that will be in this upcoming presidential election.”

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The former vice president has defied the GOP zeitgeist on social spending, as Pence has launched his presidential campaign specifically promising to reform the entitlements that his former boss, Donald Trump, has continually pledged not to touch. During an April interview with the Washington Examiner, Pence conceded that the Trump administration “did not do a good job controlling spending,” directly citing the White House’s refusal to engage in entitlement reform.

Buck was less generous in his thinly veiled swipe at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Democrats are taking this thing off the cliff at 100 miles per hour, and Republicans are taking it off at 80 miles per hour, and when you hit the bottom, it really doesn’t matter whether you were going 100 or 80,” said Buck, who voted against the final debt ceiling increase. “Here’s the hardcore reality: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — what we call in D.C., entitlements — are what drives our national debt.”

He continued, adding, “And so as Republicans, we’re saying part of this answer needs to be [that] we raise the retirement age. We have longer life expectancy than we did 30, 40 years ago. Democrats are saying, well, this cap where you don’t have to pay into Social Security after [your first] $140,000 — that doesn’t work, so Democrats want to increase that. We call that a tax increase. We’re not for that. They don’t want to see that age raised, and so there’s a standoff.”

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McCarthy took mandatory spending reform, which comprises nearly half of all federal spending, off the table when he began building a deal to avert a default on our national debt.

With both parties committed to enhancing defense spending, which makes up half of all discretionary spending, the final debt ceiling deal only caps a minority of federal spending.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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