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Biden’s Proposal To End Social Security And Medicare

Biden introduced a bill that would require all federal spending to face review and reauthorization every 4-6 years(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

While in the Senate, Biden sponsored legislation that would have required reauthorization of programs such as Medicare and Social Security every 4-6 years.

President Joe Biden slammed Republican proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security or require the programs to be reauthorized by Congress every five years during his State of the Union address.

The latter proposal, by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), would “sunset” all federal legislation, which means that any law, including those that established Medicare and Social Security, would expire after five years unless Congress voted to renew it.

Several VERIFY viewers reported hearing that Biden, while still a senator, proposed legislation similar to Scott’s.

The Worry

Is it true that Biden ever proposed legislation to sunset Social Security and Medicare?

The Answer

Yes, Senator Biden introduced a bill in 1975 that would require all federal spending to be reviewed and reauthorized every 4-6 years. Social Security and Medicare are included.


Members of both parties became increasingly concerned about the growth of federal spending in the 1970s, and sought ways to slow or reduce it. Sunset proposals, which require federal programs to be reviewed on a regular basis in order to keep their funding, are one popular idea.

As a senator from Delaware, Joe Biden introduced S. 2067, a sunsetting proposal comprised of four major components.

First, it limited future federal spending to four years before requiring reauthorization by Congress.

Second, any previously authorized federal spending would automatically expire after four or six years unless Congress reauthorized it. The four-year requirement would apply to programs with end dates that are more than four years away. The six-year requirement would apply to programs with no set end date, such as Medicare and Social Security, which were originally funded in perpetuity.

Third, before Congress could reauthorize spending programs, it would have to conduct a program review. According to the bill, this review should consider how effective the program is, whether it is staying true to its original purpose, and whether other programs would be more effective instead.

Joe Biden proposed that all federal spending, including Medicare and Social Security, be phased out.(Photo: Tom Brenner for The New York Times)

Biden’s bill was never put to a vote. Furthermore, like Scott’s original proposal, Biden’s did not specifically mention Medicare or Social Security, which are popular programs that are unlikely to fail a reauthorization vote, but would apply to them nonetheless.

When introducing the bill to the Senate, Biden argued for it by saying: “We must… begin reviewing existing programs to determine whether they are still effective, and whether they are worth the money that we are putting in them. We must get rid of the wasteful ones.”

“One thing we’ve all noticed is that once a federal program is launched, it’s very difficult to stop it, or even change its emphasis, regardless of its past performance,” he continued. “It is past time for us to demand, on a regular and ongoing basis, that both the administrators of these programs and we legislators who adopt them thoroughly examine their operations.”

The Biden administration did not respond to VERIFY’s request for comment right away.

However, when asked about the proposal, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Feb. 9 that, regardless of his proposals in 1975, Biden’s current position on Medicare and Social Security is clear.

“The president ran on protecting Medicare and Social Security from cuts, and he reiterated that in the State of the Union,” she reportedly said, “and he’s been very clear these past couple of years.”

Sen. Scott’s proposal has since been updated to specifically exempt “Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services.”


Read also: Social Security: Payment Cuts Off Up To 20% As Early As 2032

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