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Republican senator warns Congress must take action now to protect Medicare and Social Security

<i>CNN</i><br/>
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By Paul LeBlanc and Sam Fossum, CNN

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota offered Sunday a stark warning about the future of Social Security and Medicare if Congress fails to take action now.

“In the next 11 years, we have to have a better plan in place than what we do today. Or we’re going to see — under existing circumstances — some reductions of as much as 24% in some sort of a benefit. So, let’s start talking now because it’s easier to fix it now that it would be five years or six years from now,” Rounds told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

In recent days, President Joe Biden has made a forceful argument against Republicans by highlighting his support for Social Security and Medicare. The president has specifically seized on a proposal from GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida to sunset federal legislation — including Social Security and Medicare — every five years and require Congress to pass them again.

Referencing his “spirited debate” with Republicans at the State of the Union, Biden called Scott’s proposal “outrageous” and vowed he would veto such a plan during a speech in Florida last week.

“The very idea the senator from Florida wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years I find to be somewhat outrageous. So outrageous that you might not even believe it,” he said, pulling out a pamphlet detailing Scott’s plan.

Scott told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins last week that his proposal is intended to eliminate wasteful spending and help ensure the government can “figure out how to start living within our means.”

“I want to make sure we balance our budget and preserve Medicare and Social Security, and I’ve been clear all along,” he said.

Rounds also stressed Sunday that Republicans want to better manage Medicare and Social Security in order to improve the programs — not strip them from the American people.

“We think that there are possibilities out there of long-term success without scaring people and without tearing apart the system and without reducing benefits. But it requires management. And it requires actually looking at and making things better,” he said.

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