Republican Presidential Candidates on Social Security and Medicare


On the Issues

Where the Republican Candidates Stand on Social Security and Medicare

Social Security and Medicare are known as third rails of American politics for a reason. Reducing benefits is very unpopular, but higher taxes are divisive, too — and without at least one of those two steps, both programs are on track to become unable to make full payments in the next decade. Exact projections have fluctuated based on overall economic conditions, but the most recent estimates show Social Security running out of money to cover full benefits by 2033, and part of Medicare by 2031.

The candidates are split on whether to call for changes to the programs, but those who say they would leave them untouched generally have not explained how they would keep them solvent.

Headshot of Donald J. Trump

He says he wouldn’t cut the programs but hasn’t explained how he would keep them solvent.

Former President Donald J. Trump has said he would not make any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits. However, he has also opposed raising taxes to bring in more funding for them, which means his plans would not keep the programs solvent for the long term. A spokesman for his campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Headshot of Ron DeSantis

He says he’s open to Social Security cuts for younger Americans.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has ruled out reducing Social Security benefits for current retirees and people near retirement age, but he has expressed openness to reductions for younger Americans.

Headshot of Nikki Haley

She says she’s open to cuts for younger Americans.

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has suggested that she would raise the Social Security retirement age for people currently in their 20s in accordance with increases in life expectancy, though she has not given a number. (The retirement age is currently 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.)

Headshot of Mike Pence

He wants to partly privatize Social Security, but his plan for Medicare is unclear.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has tried to contrast himself with candidates who say they would leave Social Security and Medicare untouched.

Headshot of Tim Scott

He says he wouldn’t cut the programs but hasn’t explained how he would keep them solvent.

Senator Tim Scott said at a campaign event this spring that he would “never, ever cut Medicare or Social Security benefits.” But at another event, he also said that policymakers would “have to look at the overall entitlement state of our nation.”

Headshot of Chris Christie

He supports a higher retirement age and lower benefits for wealthy people.

Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey supports raising the retirement age for people currently in their 40s or younger, and ending Social Security benefits for the wealthiest people, a policy known as means-testing. “Do we really need to have Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk collecting Social Security?” he asked in an interview with Fox News in July.

Headshot of Asa Hutchinson

He wants to let people claim benefits early while still working, and he would have a commission consider changes.

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has suggested that people who begin claiming Social Security benefits early should be allowed to continue working while still receiving the benefits. By continuing to earn a paycheck, these workers would keep paying into the Social Security system through payroll deductions, increasing the program’s funding.

Headshot of Vivek Ramaswamy

He says he wouldn’t cut the programs but hasn’t explained how he would keep them solvent.

Vivek Ramaswamy has said he would not touch Social Security or Medicare benefits. “In a shrinking economy, we should not cut entitlements,” he said in July. In an interview with Gray DC a few months earlier, he said that he would not have created the programs, but that people now had “a reasonable expectation” of receiving certain benefits and that “you can’t just pull that rug out from under them.”

Headshot of Doug Burgum

He has called Social Security a “solemn commitment” but hasn’t made his plans clear.

Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota suggested in a town hall event in New Hampshire that he could “drive dollars” to the program by running the rest of the government and the federal budget “more efficiently.”

Headshot of Will Hurd

Will Hurd

Former United States Representative

He has not made his plans clear.

As a member of Congress, former Representative Will Hurd of Texas voted against raising the retirement age for Social Security and means-testing for wealthy Americans. As a candidate, however, he has not outlined specific proposals on Social Security and Medicare, and his campaign did not respond to questions.

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