WASHINGTON – Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) told PJM that saving Medicare and Social Security and cutting “excess” federal spending are winning issues for Republicans in the midterm elections.
The Trump administration has projected that the Medicare Trust Fund would be depleted by 2026 while the Social Security Trust Fund is estimated to run out by 2034.
“I think it’s our opportunity to save Social Security and Medicare after 60 years of outrageous, irresponsible liberal spending, in that the formula wouldn’t work. Lyndon Johnson knew it when they put the Great Society in and they liberalized the Social Security plan and so forth; they knew it was never going to be sustainable. Here we are at the end of that run and it’s not sustainable, so we as Republicans could be seen as the saviors of Social Security; it is not that hard,” Perdue told PJM during a recent interview at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference in Washington.
“We might have to make some tough decisions, but I think the American people will see that – now what the president’s strategy is, is look, we’ve got to get people’s confidence up again, get the economy moving, get people feeling good about themselves. And here’s the proof – 900,000 people have found jobs. These are people who had lost hope. I know some of these people in Georgia. They found jobs now because of this rebound in our economy. So I believe now the attitude around our country is, yes, now’s the time. Let’s get our house in order,” he added.
Sept. 30 is the deadline for appropriations. Perdue was asked if the GOP should reduce spending in the next appropriations bill after increasing federal spending in the last appropriations bill. In response, the senator said the entire budgeting process needs reform.
“This is the crisis of our time, right? Four times in the last 44 years Congresses funded the government on time – only four out of 44 years since the ’74 Budget Act was put into place. That’s what we’re working on …redo that budget process so we don’t have this drama every year. That’s why we asked for Congress to stay in this year and the Senate to stay in and work in August if we don’t get the government funded by Aug. 1. And I’m hopeful that we will get it funded by Aug. 1, but if we don’t we will stay here until we get it funded,” he said.
“Why is that important? Because what happens is the Congress will pass a continuing resolution and that leads to an omnibus where four people get in a room and decide how to spend $1.5 trillion. Well, that always caused spending to go up. So to get the Democrats’ vote we have to give them more spending or the government shuts down. That is not what the Founding Fathers wanted us to do,” he added.
The national debt has surpassed $21 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this year’s $800 billion deficit could reach $1 trillion by 2020.
Perdue was asked how the GOP plans to cut federal spending without reducing the Department of Defense budget or reforming entitlement programs – two areas where the most taxpayer money is spent each year.
“I was involved in the White House last year two weeks after [Trump] was inaugurated, when he laid out the agenda for the first two years… in that meeting we talked about debt, and it’s driving what we’re doing in the agenda. The first thing we had to do is grow the economy. So we worked in regulation, energy and taxes and this year we put a Dodd-Frank a reform bill in. So we’re we’ve released $6 trillion back into the economy. That’s the first thing you have to do is get the economy growing,” Perdue said.
“The second thing is we’ve got to fix this budget process, so I worked for three years. We’ve got a team working on that this year – finally, leadership gave us a select committee, 16 people, House and Senate, Republican-Democrat, supposedly – that we will come up with a new way to fund the government in a politically neutral platform. I’m really hopeful about that,” he added.
Perdue said the GOP-led Congress is working to address about $800 billion in “excess” annual spending, and “about $100 billion of that in the last three years has been cut.”
“We haven’t talked a lot about that but that’s just happened, just like the 550 people who have been fired at the VA. We don’t talk about that a lot; it’s just part of what’s happening under the Trump administration. But here comes the heavy lift, as you said. We’ve got to save Social Security and Medicare,” the senator said.
He noted that the CBO recently warned Social Security and Medicare trust funds “go zero by 2026.”
“That’s eight years. Now that’s six years shorter than they were telling us just last year,” he added. “So this is a crisis and we’ve got to do that. And then, last, we’ve got to get at the underlying inflating pressures of healthcare – not just the insurance like Obamacare tried to do, but the driving costs themselves. So those are the things the president is focused on.”
Perdue also said the Senate is working on ways to move House-passed sanctuary city bills to passage before the end of the year.
“There might be things we can do under the budget process and reconciliation that actually implements the Kate’s Law and also the sanctuary cities law. We’ve got our own bills in the Senate. I’m a co-sponsor of both. You know, our bill and the House bill is not that much different. So I’m hopeful that as we get the government funded – that’s the first priority – when we get that done then we can move to some of these other critical issues that we’ve had on the board for years. But we haven’t been able to get the Democrats to help us. We think we can do it now without them if we can get this reconciliation process done,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that Philadelphia is still able to receive federal grants despite its “sanctuary city” policies that prohibit full cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Perdue predicted that the ruling would be reversed.
“The principle is this: Do the federal law enforcement officers have jurisdiction over a federal crime? And my answer is yes,” he said. “It’s outrageous that a city can, on their own volition, decide that they’re not going to turn over a convicted felon or a suspected felon to the federal authorities. That’s just not the way we do things here in the United States. So I think eventually as that works its way through the court, even that Pennsylvania case will get reversed.”