On Thursday, Senator Bill Cassidy accused President Biden of ignoring numerous requests from lawmakers to engage in bipartisan talks to save Social Security.
Mr. Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, said the White House’s position contradicted Mr. Biden’s public statements about a willingness to work with Congress to protect the pension program.
“A bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly asked to meet with [Mr. Biden] on Social Security so that anyone who is a current beneficiary would not see her benefits cut by 24%,” the senator said. “We haven’t heard anything [about] our request. We repeatedly requested a meeting with the president.”
The allegation came during heated Senate Finance Committee hearings with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Mrs. Yellen told the panel that Mr. Biden is willing to work with Congress to fix Social Security, which is scheduled to expire by 2032.
“He cares deeply,” Ms. Yellen said. “He’s willing to work with Congress.”
Mr Cassidy described the claim as a “lie”. He is leading a bipartisan group of senators drafting legislation to address the Social Security funding crisis.
Lawmakers, including independent Maine Sen. Angus King, are weighing options such as raising the retirement age, adjusting annual cost-of-living benefits and expanding the way Social Security is funded.
According to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security will not be able to pay full pension and survivor benefits starting in 2032. The program faces shortfalls as the U.S. population ages and birth rates remain low.
If Washington does nothing, Social Security benefits will automatically be cut by 20%, reducing pensioners by $12,000 to $17,000.
Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare for years. Most recently, they’ve been basing the claim on a proposal last year by Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that would require all federal programs to be renewed every five years or else expire.
Scott’s plan was rejected by GOP lawmakers as unrealistic from the start. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has vowed to mount opposition to the proposal if it gets a vote in Congress.
Republican lawmakers say Mr. Biden’s rhetoric on Social Security has not matched his actions.
“Why doesn’t the president’s budget say how you protect Social Security?” said Sen. Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah. “We have a problem with social security. We need to solve it.”
Mr. Biden’s budget proposed billions in funding for new and existing federal programs. To pay for the surge, he wants a $5.5 trillion tax hike. The budget lacked taxes or spending increases to help Social Security stay solvent.