President Joe Biden kicked off the final weekend before the midterm elections draw to a close in Illinois, where he sought to contrast his plans to lower costs and bolster Social Security and Medicare to those of Republicans attempting to retake Congress.
“Social Security and Medicare are more than government programs,” the president told the crowd gathered at Jones Elementary School in Joliet, Illinois. “They are a promise: Work hard and contribute and when the time comes things will be a little easier.”
But Republicans, Biden charged, are “coming for your Social Security and Medicare,” taking aim at a proposal from Sen. Rick Scott, the GOP Senate campaign chairman, which would examine federal programs like Medicare and Social Security on a five-year basis.
“Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate, put out a plan that places Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every 5 years,” Biden said.
Scott’s proposal includes sunsetting all federal legislation within five years, which could include programs like Medicare and Social Security. Scott has noted that his plan doesn't intend to end the programs, but perhaps rework them.
Biden also took aim at Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from neighboring Wisconsin, who is locked in a tight re-election contest against the state’s Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes — who said in a radio interview over the summer that Medicare and Social Security should be made part of discretionary spending, which is subject to annual review by Congress.
“[Johnson] thinks waiting every five years to try and eliminate Social Security is too long,” Biden said. “He thinks Social Security and Medicare should be on the chopping block every single year, along with veterans benefits and everything else in the federal budget. If Congress doesn’t vote to keep it, it goes away. It’s gone.”
“You’ve been paying for [Social Security and Medicare] your whole life,” Biden added. “Now these guys want to take it away? Who the hell do they think they are?”
It’s a comparison that the president has sought to highlight in recent weeks, including in Florida on Tuesday, where Biden said Americans were "under siege" from the GOP and made the case that said people who pay into Social Security throughout their life deserve to have it there when they retire.
The White House pointed out Tuesday that 63 million Americans benefit from Medicare, 65 million from Social Security and 89 million from Medicaid.
The president also made the case that Congressional Democrats have taken significant steps to lower health care costs, particularly for seniors. Biden touted the benefits of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act — specifically the annual cap of $2,000 for out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and $35 per month insulin price cap for individuals covered by Medicare — while making the case that Republicans want to take those benefits away.
“Republicans in the Congress are calling to tell us their No. 1 priority is to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said. “Everything I just talked about — the $2,000 cap on prescription drugs, the $35-a-month cap on insulin for seniors, the power for Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drugs prices — all gone.”
Biden attended the event alongside Rep. Lauren Underwood, who is running for re-election against Republican Scott Gryder, who chairs the County Board of Kendall, Ill.
At a political rally the night before, Biden called Underwood, the youngest Black woman ever to serve in the House of Representatives, a "champion of families."
The president made some waves at the event when he said that he felt "really good" about Democrats' chances in the upcoming midterms, adding that he is "not buying the notion that we’re in trouble."