- President Joe Biden is visiting Florida, a state defined by its growing retiree population and status as the unofficial headquarters of the modern-day Republican Party, on Thursday.
- He aims to drive a wedge between GOP lawmakers and their older voters who rely on Social Security and Medicare.
- In addition, Biden hopes to lay the groundwork for his expected re-election campaign announcement this spring by using these two programs as political tools.
After delivering his State of the Union address, he visited Wisconsin, where he declared that he will block any attempts to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits. He emphasized that these benefits belong to American workers, and he will not let anyone cut them.
While leading Republican lawmakers insist that Social Security and Medicare spending cuts are off the table, Biden sees a political opportunity as some prominent Republicans have talked about the subject.
During the State of the Union address, GOP lawmakers jeered when Biden referenced a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott to require the programs to be reauthorized every five years. Biden seized this opportunity and asked Republicans and Democrats to pledge not to make cuts to these programs.
Sen. Scott, however, claims that the president has misrepresented his policy ideas. He stated that he only wants the programs to be up for congressional renewal every five years, which is different from spending cuts to Social Security or Medicare.
Social Security and Medicare at the Forefront of Upcoming Election Campaigns
The future of Social Security and Medicare is delicate as economists predict that these programs will drive the national debt to unprecedented heights in the coming decades. In addition, the Social Security trust fund is expected to be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035, prompting some Republican lawmakers to call for changes to sustain payments.
However, any proposed changes to these programs can be politically damaging, especially in Republican-held Florida, where Census figures show that nearly a third of adults are over the age of 62.
Despite its status as a swing state, Florida has trended towards the GOP in recent years, and the state is expected to be the staging ground for multiple presidential campaigns this summer.