WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Mike Pence, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said Thursday he plans to “reform” Social Security and set up private savings accounts for beneficiaries.
“There are modest reforms in entitlements that can be made without putting anyone at a time of need,” Pence told an audience at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors summit in Washington, DC. the New Deal with a Better Deal You literally give younger Americans the ability to take a portion of their Social Security withholdings and put them into a private savings account.
Video of the event was obtained by Democratic monitoring group American Bridge 21st Century.
The comments mark one of Pence’s first policy proposals as the field for the Republican nomination is rapidly taking shape.
Former President Donald Trump, who was the first to announce his candidacy, started campaigning in earnest last weekend. And former UN ambassador Nikki Haley will launch her campaign for president on February 15.
House Republicans, having regained control of the house, launched cuts to the popular federal program. But Trump himself, who in 2020 proposed eliminating the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, warned Republicans in January to leave that program and Medicare alone.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single cent from Medicare or Social Security,” he said in a video posted from his 2024 presidential campaign.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely considered Trump’s main contender for the nomination at the moment — should he decide to enter the race — has regularly supported raising the retirement age for Social Security when he was in Congress.
Pence hasn’t formally declared himself president, but he’s widely expected to jump into the running, having spent nearly two years taking campaign-style trips across the country.
A spokesman for Pence declined to comment on this story.
Critics have long derided the idea of overhauling Social Security as an effort to “privatize” the People’s Government program, which would likely result in cuts in what elderly and disabled Americans receive.
“Mike Pence’s presidential bid is dead on arrival. In an unsuccessful attempt to bring it to life, it is leaning on George W. Bush’s far-right, unpopular and deeply damaging plan to privatize Social Security,” said Grace Hagerty, a spokeswoman for American Bridge. “Then it didn’t work. It won’t work now.”
The idea has long been circulating among conservatives but has been deemed the “third rail of American politics” due to backlash from voters worried about cuts to what they would receive.
Pence supported Bush’s efforts to overhaul Social Security nearly two decades ago, when he was a congressman and Bush, then president, promoted the idea.
Pence phrased the idea in terms of cutting the federal debt and limiting spending, an idea that took a back seat during the Trump administration but has regained favor among Republicans with Joe Biden in the White House.
“It is absolutely essential that we generate leadership in this country that is sincere with the American people, that takes us off this trajectory of enormous debt that we are piling up on the shoulders of those grandchildren,” Pence said.