Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana accused the Biden administration of lying about its commitment to working with Congress to protect seniors’ social security benefits at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.
Cassidy asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who was testifying about President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024, if the president was aware that “when [Social Security] goes broke in nine years” there would be a 24% cut in benefits for current recipients.
Yellen said she believed that was “about right,” and after a brief exchange, Cassidy asked the secretary where the president’s plan was to address the challenges faced by social security.
“He stands ready to work with Congress,” Yellen said, before she was cut off by Cassidy.
“That’s a lie, because when a bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly requested to meet with him about Social, so that somebody who is a current beneficiary will not see her benefits cut by 24%, we have not heard anything on our request, and we made multiple requests to meet with the president,” Cassidy said. “Now you can’t comment on that, I realize that, but that is a fact, and if you’ve been told that he stands ready to meet, there’s absolutely no evidence because we have not gotten our meeting.”
The two went on to discuss the feasibility of funding Medicare, the national debt and Social Security by only increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. As the senator’s time was running low, Yellen reaffirmed her statement that the president “stands ready” to work with congress on protecting Social Security benefits, something Cassidy said “rings hollow.”
“My colleague’s out of time, and I would just caution, colleagues, we got plenty of differences around here, but accusing witnesses of lying is over the line,” said Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s chairman.
“I accept that and I did not mean that for the Madam Secretary, who is merely saying that which she’s been told, I’m saying that for an empiric observation, when the president says he’s ready to meet, that he’s turned down multiple times.” said Cassidy.
“The time of the gentleman’s expired, accusing witnesses of lying is over the line,” Wyden responded.
“But I did not accuse her,” said Cassidy, speaking loudly over Wyden before the chairman recognized Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware.
“Well, welcome to the Finance Committee, Secretary Yellen,” said Carper, eliciting a chuckle from the audience.
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