Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are “identical” when it comes to their Social Security and Medicare policies, according to former Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence, who is expected to soon announce a 2024 GOP presidential primary challenge to Trump, compared the policies of his former running mate to the current president’s during a Fox Business interview on Thursday.
Trump and prominent GOP figures including Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy have recently ruled out making cuts to the programs, while Pence and some other Republicans argue that cuts should be on the table.
After lamenting the Trump administration’s performance on “controlling spending” Thursday, Pence told Fox Business host Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director during the Trump administration, that the ex-president was “sadly” in lockstep with Biden by refusing to back “entitlement reform.”
“Our administration could’ve done a better job controlling domestic spending,” Pence said. “We could’ve begun a national debate over dealing with the real driver of our national debt, which is 70 percent of our federal budget as you know, which is entitlements.”
“Joe Biden’s policy is insolvency, he doesn’t even want to talk about entitlement reform,” he continued. “Sadly, my former running mate’s policy is identical to Joe Biden’s and other Republicans are walking away from a commitment to entitlement reform.”
The former vice president went on to say that he wanted to be “honest with the American people,” arguing that potential cuts to the programs would be “compassionate solutions.”
Pence said that his proposals would not change benefits to anyone retiring in the next 25 years, while those under the age of 40 would need to be subject to “common-sense reforms” and “personal savings accounts.”
In a statement to Newsweek, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said that the former president “wants to protect seniors from having the Medicare and Social Security ripped away from them” and “any candidate who wants to take that away from them needs to reevaluate their purpose for running for office.”
Surveys suggest that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are deeply unpopular ideas. A poll released in March by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that at least two-thirds of all Americans oppose making cuts, increasing premiums or raising the age of eligibility for the programs.
This week, the Pence-aligned super PAC “Committed to America” announced that it was launching in support of the former vice president’s expected primary challenge to Trump, who is far and away the leading 2024 Republican candidate.
The New York Times reported that Pence is expected to run as a “classical conservative” in the vein of former President Ronald Reagan, while targeting evangelical voters by championing conservative social policies like a federal abortion ban.
Polling data indicates that the Pence campaign will be facing an uphill battle for the GOP nomination, with most recent surveys showing the former vice president languishing in a distant third place behind Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has also not officially declared his candidacy.