Biden tangles with Republicans on Social Security and Medicare to heckles of 'liar'

For much of the night, President Biden was on the offensive.

February 8, 2023, 6:42 AM

President Joe Biden stood at the lectern in front of Congress to deliver his second State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night -- a speech in front of the nation that saw him plead for bipartisan cooperation amid both cheers and jeers from his legislative branch colleagues.

For much of the night, President Biden was on the offensive.

One of the night's more contentious moments came when Biden was discussing the debt ceiling and the White House's disagreements with Republicans on government borrowing and spending.

PHOTO: Republican members of Congress protest and yell as U.S. President Joe Biden says that Republicans are promoting cuts to the social security and medicare programs in Washington, U.S., Feb. 7, 2023.
Republican members of Congress protest and yell as U.S. President Joe Biden says that Republicans are promoting cuts to the social security and medicare programs in Washington, U.S., Feb. 7, 2023.
Leah Millis/Reuters

"Some Republicans -- some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” Biden said as he pledged to prevent Republicans from cutting Social Security and Medicare. “I'm not saying it's the majority. If Congress doesn't keep the programs where they are they go well, the Republicans say I'm not saying there's a majority of you. I don't even think it's even significant.”

Although Biden noted that he wasn’t saying the “majority” of Republicans wanted to do so, he was immediately showered with boos from the other side of the aisle.

Biden also pointed out that, during the previous administration, Congress raised the debt ceiling three times “without preconditions or crisis” and that “I’m asking this Congress to follow suit.”

PHOTO: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., reacts as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., reacts as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington.
Patrick Semansky/AP

Then it got particularly intense.

“Let us commit here tonight to the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” Biden said. “Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage … unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what those plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I am not saying that is a majority. Anybody who doubts it, contact my office and I will give you a copy of the proposal.”

“I don't think it is a majority of you,” Biden continued. “I don't even think it is significant. I am politely not naming them, but it is being proposed by some of you.”

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington.
Susan Walsh/AP

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has publicly said that potential cuts to Medicare and Social Security are "off the table" but that didn’t stop the boos getting louder as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a populist firebrand, could be heard yelling “liar” at Biden multiple times from the audience.

Biden soldiered on.

“So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare off the books now, right?” Biden asked amid the tense exchange. “All right. We got unanimity.”

Biden earned a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle following the comment.

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