Biden during a speech. Screenshot/NBC News/ Getty Images/ Jim Watson

During President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech, he got booed after accusing “some” Republicans of seeking to “sunset” some of the so-called entitlements[SP1]. Biden said: “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans … want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. … Anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.”

It is certainly true that President George W. Bush set up a bipartisan commission to address the long-term problem with Social Security solvency. Their 2002 report proposed allowing workers to devote a portion of their Social Security contribution to a private account to invest, for example, in the stock market for a better rate of return. The report concluded: “Social Security will be strengthened if modernized to include a system of voluntary personal accounts. Personal accounts improve retirement security by facilitating wealth creation and providing participants with assets that they own and that can be inherited, rather than providing only claims to benefits that remain subject to political negotiation.” It is also true that Bush abandoned the plan after Democrats denounced it as a “risky” scheme to “privatize Social Security.”

But it is equally true that both Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton called Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — without reforms — “unsustainable.” As for Biden, as senator in 1975, he proposed reexamining (SET ITAL) every (END ITAL) federal program. In a floor speech, he said, “One thing that we must do is to begin reviewing existing programs to determine whether they are still effective and whether they are worth the money that we are putting in them. We must eliminate the wasteful ones.” Awkward.

Obama set up a bipartisan “federal deficit commission” that made several recommendations. About its final report, ABC News wrote: “The president had tasked commission co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson with devising a plan to reduce the deficits and redirect the country from its ‘unsustainable’ fiscal path… To dig the country out of debt, the plan put forth by the panel today calls for drastic changes such as raising the Social Security retirement age, making cuts to Medicare and doubling the federal gas tax. It made only minor changes to the earlier draft released by Bowles and Simpson last month.”

As for Clinton, he too set a bipartisan commission to tackle the entitlements problem. The federal government’s Social Security website states: “On November 5th 1993 President Bill Clinton — by Executive Order #12878 — created the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement Reform. The Commission — which began work in February 1994 — was co-chaired by Senators Robert Kerrey (D-NB) and John Danforth (R-MO[SP2]). The Commission was comprised of ten U.S. Senators, ten members of Congress, and twelve members of the public, along with a professional staff of 27.
“In their approach, the Commission went well beyond the topics of Social Security and Medicare and lumped together everything that might be considered an ‘entitlement’ — from welfare programs to the home mortgage interest tax deduction to the cost of federal civilian and military retirement. Its goal was to devise a package of proposals which would reduce the overall cost of all of these programs. …

“The two co-chairs of the Commission developed their own Social Security proposal, which featured raising the retirement age to 70, a cut in the Social Security payroll tax, with the money redirected into mandatory private accounts, and adopting price-indexing (among other changes). This was perhaps the first advocacy of ‘carve-out’ private accounts, and of price indexing, by a prominent mainstream group.”
Were those Democratic presidents, both of whom established commissions on entitlements, seeking — to use Biden’s characterization — to “sunset” these programs?

The federal budget devotes about half of its spending to the “entitlement” programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. Then there is income security, which includes general retirement and disability insurance; federal employee retirement, disability and military retirement; unemployment compensation; housing assistance; nutrition assistance; foster care; Supplemental Security Income; and the earned income and child tax credits. Throw in national security and interest on the debt and there’s almost nothing left. Both Republican and Democrat presidents concede that without reforms these programs are “unsustainable,” yet members of both parties attack reform as “risky” and “irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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Anna Martin
3 months ago

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Last edited 3 months ago by Anna Martin
David Micahnik
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Martin

A number of years ago, many rulers and savants declared unequivocally that the earth was flat. This was generally accepted by many but not all. Disagreement was declared heresy and punished. Eventually empirical review found that it was not true, and the round earth became accepted by nearly all.
This is history. not a parable.
Let us be guided accordingly now, and not hasten to create “solutions ” worse than the “facts” which describe current issues.
Varying points of view need honest evaluation before we leap into a new abyss. POINT OF VIEW MATTERS.
Dave Micahnik
84 and retired

3 months ago
Reply to  David Micahnik

the RED (sane) states need to separate and STOP funding the evil empire called Amerika. NO MORE unGREATful SOCIETY. restore the republic that Lincoln destroyed

Stephen Russell
3 months ago

I say Sunset these too:
Dept Education, Commerce, Energy
any Inter agencies

3 months ago

Hidenbiden is habitual,cronic,liar and no one should believe a word he says.He should be censored for all the propaganda, and bs he spews everytime he speaks.

3 months ago
Reply to  Joe

sloppy Joe has said racist things his whole life, long before he went senile

3 months ago

More lies.Biden just tried to reduce what physicians currently recieve for treating medixcare and medicaid patients by 4 percent. This is why so many physicians are refusing to accept Medicare and medicaid patients and is probably why so many are just retiring.

John Runyon
3 months ago
Reply to  nannie

Wait until they implement a social healthcare system like we have here in Canada.

3 months ago

need to ship out the Africans to their home in Africa and other illegals too

3 months ago

Any politician that dares mess with social security to the point that it falters will not only end their career,but will also most likely be hunted down and skinned alive by the citizenry!🤷

3 months ago

If you believe anything the clown prince democrat says you are nuts!

3 months ago

RESIDENT Biden CLAIMS a lot of things. Pay him no mind. Oh, and vote him and anyone who even remotely agrees with him out of office.

3 months ago

What most people don’t know is that Congress has always gone back to SS and move money from it to their “other” programs. In the past, when Congress needed more money for different projects, they took from SS. Which I understand. This why SS is in such a deplorable condition! The bigger issue is that Congress instead of replacing the money from SS they then used it for the other absolutely ridiculous project they wanted to fund!