GOP Looks To Flip the Script, Attack Dems for 'Slashing' Benefits to Seniors

$2 million ad buy from McCarthy-aligned PAC targets 14 swing congressional districts

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) / Getty Images
March 3, 2023

As President Joe Biden accuses Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security, Republican leadership is working to flip the script, arguing in a new ad campaign that it's Democrats who are slashing benefits to seniors.

American Action Network, an outside spending group aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), launched the $2 million effort Wednesday. The ads, which will run in 14 congressional districts, accuse Biden of "breaking his promise to 30 million seniors" by proposing benefit cuts to Medicare Advantage, a private alternative to Medicare. The Biden administration in February proposed changes to Medicare Advantage's payment policies—changes that would cost seniors $540 a year in benefits, according to one study.

The ad campaign comes just weeks after Biden used his Feb. 7 State of the Union address to attack "some Republicans" for wanting "Social Security and Medicare to sunset," a line that prompted live pushback from McCarthy and others in his party. It also shows that Republicans plan to bring the fight over benefit cuts to Biden. While McCarthy and other Republican leaders have long rebuffed accusations from the president that they want to cut Medicare and Social Security, Wednesday's ad campaign takes the squabble a step further, with Republicans now working to pin benefit cuts on Democrats.

"Joe Biden and his liberal friends in Congress are talking out of both sides of their mouth: promising to protect Medicare while pushing benefit cuts for seniors," American Action Network president Dan Conston said in a statement. "Each and every liberal in Congress needs to speak out now and stop Biden's cuts to Medicare benefits before it's too late."

The network's attempt to go on offense on benefit cuts is likely to prompt pushback from the White House, which has denied that its Medicare Advantage proposal constitutes a "cut." "Any claim that the administration is cutting Medicare is categorically false," Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra said last month.

Published under: Kevin McCarthy , Medicare