House Democrats pushed Republicans to clarify the implications of a new bill that would denounce the “horrors of socialism” and socialist policies, expressing concern that it may include Medicare and Social Security benefits.
The House Rules Committee met Tuesday to discuss the resolution, proposed on Jan. 25 by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.).
Democrats, including the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), urged GOP lawmakers to specify the meaning of opposing “socialist policies.”
“This resolution is instead as divisive as it is insulting to the American public. It is trying to suggest that Social Security, Medicare and even fire departments are anti-American,” Waters said. “None of this is surprising to me. Nor is this blatant attempt by Republicans to try and scare Americans.”
The hearing comes as Republicans demand spending cuts in exchange for their vote to raise the debt ceiling. However, what those cuts might look like remains unclear, and President Biden has called on the House GOP to propose a budget in the coming weeks.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has insisted that Medicare and Social Security are safe from the GOP’s knife, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from warning that Republicans want to slash spending on the entitlement programs — claims that Waters echoed on Tuesday.
Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) did not directly respond to the concerns about cutting benefits but said members should send a “strong message” that socialism “has no place” in government policy.
“In an attempt to address social issues, those on the far left have taken an approach that more closely mirrors the Communist Chinese party’s actions of recent date than the proven free market solutions that make America the envy of the world,” McHenry said.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) proposed an amendment to clarify that opposition to socialist policies does not include existing programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
During the hearing, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) called the GOP legislation an “embarrassment” and asked about the implications of claims of socialism in the U.S.
“I mean, what policies are you talking about? Is it policies that help poor people? Is it Social Security? Is it Medicare? What is prompting this?” McGovern said.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said socialism in the U.S. is a “moving target” and that the resolution is necessary to limit government spending.
“I think it’s important to have a vote on, do we want to be socialist? What does that mean, though? To me, it means size and scope of government,” Massie said. “And we have those on the other side of the aisle who embrace socialism.”
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