Romney and budget director get in heated exchange over Social Security, while Lee says Biden needs to cut spending
Mike Lee also addressed Utahns’ concerns about high prices and inflation in a Senate floor speech
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that a Biden administration official was being “offensive” and “dishonest” when she said Republicans want to cut Social Security benefits for current recipients.
At a Budget Committee hearing to discuss President Joe Biden’s proposed budget, Romney got into a heated exchange with Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, who accused Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security benefits.
Romney told Young he thought her claims about Social Security were “offensive and dishonest and not realistic.”
“The biggest threat is in 10 years or so, the Social Security trust fund runs out of money and benefits get automatically cut by 25%,” Romney said. “I’m upset that the president hasn’t included any effort to address that shortfall because I want to protect Social Security benefits for all of our recipients.”
Young told Romney she believed “current members have well-known policies out there to cut Social Security and Medicare.”
“That’s simply wrong,” Romney replied. “And it’s not honest to say that to members of Congress. That is simply wrong. There is no one who’s recommending cutting Social Security benefits.”
Romney also said Biden hadn’t done enough to protect Medicare, and he rejected the Biden administration’s claims that they have reduced the deficit.
“I think it’s embarrassing to suggest the president has reduced the size of the deficit or reduced spending,” Romney said, suggesting the administration should take into account the bump in spending during COVID-19 before making claims about the deficit.
Romney said he hopes Republicans and Democrats can work together to find a way to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee also questioned Young at the hearing and addressed Biden’s budget proposal on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
In his committee remarks, Lee said that Biden’s budget was a “political messaging document,” and would not be adopted as delivered, especially in a divided Congress.
“It should be noted that many of the largest policies embedded in this particular request have zero chance of becoming law,” he said.
Ultimately, Congress is tasked with decisions over spending and raising revenue, he said, while also arguing that Congress should take back more control over regulatory decisions as well.
“Congress, not unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, will have ultimate decision-making responsibility over regulations that affect economic growth and ultimately revenue,” he said.
Later, in a speech on the Senate floor, Lee named several Utahns who he said have struggled as costs have risen because of inflation over the past year.
Lee said “Jenny from Salt Lake City” told him, “I don’t know how I can afford to live” on her $30,000 annual salary given rising prices. He also spoke about “Kevin from Murray,” who is a small-business owner and has struggled with high gas prices.
To fight inflation, Lee said, Biden needs to reduce government spending.
“Rather than address his spending … the Biden administration continues to blame inflation on everything from the pandemic to Putin,” he said.