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Senator Joe Manchin

Retirement Planning > Social Security > Social Security Funding

Manchin Wants Deal on Social Security, Medicare and Debt

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West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said Thursday that Congress needs to deal with the nation’s “crippling debt” by making changes to shore up Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs he said are “going bankrupt.”

Manchin said at a Fortune CEO conference he’d like to see bipartisan legislation over the next two years to deal with entitlement programs, which he said are facing “tremendous problems.” Some of the trust funds that help support the programs could run out of money in the next 12 years, which would trigger cuts to benefits.

“We cannot live with this crippling debt,” Manchin, a Democrat, said. “If we can’t come to grips of how we face the financial challenges this country has, then we’re all going to be paying a price that we can’t afford.”

Manchin made his remarks a few days before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress for the next two years. Republicans, who are forecast to take control of the House and are challenging for control of the Senate, are running on promises to rein in government spending.

Some are proposing cutting outlays for Social Security and Medicare, popular but expensive programs that benefit the elderly or disabled, and using next year’s deadline to raise the US debt limit to extract concessions from Democrats.

President Joe Biden has vowed to protect the two programs and warned that a standoff over the debt ceiling would unleash economic “chaos.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said in a New York Times interview published Thursday that Democrats should raise the debt limit before the new Congress convenes in January if Republicans win the House or the Senate to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from cuts. That almost certainly would require Manchin’s backing.

Inflation Issues

Manchin separately said both parties bear some blame for inflation, which is running near a 40-year high.

He criticized pandemic-relief stimulus checks sent to Americans by Congress under both Biden and former President Donald Trump. He said a better course would have been to follow example set by then-President Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression by creating jobs programs instead.

He also urged the business community to stop giving campaign donations to lawmakers and asking for “nothing in return,” which he said was foolish. He said instead they should ask politicians why they should invest in them and what they will get in return.

Manchin, whose term expires in 2024, also said he hasn’t yet decided whether to run for re-election.

(Photo: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg)

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