Fox News Host Confronts GOP's Scalise on Proposed Medicare Cuts: 'Betrayal'

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, on Sunday was confronted over potential voter discontent with the GOP's plans for Medicare.

Representative Scalise appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the upcoming midterm elections. As the minority whip, he is considered to be the second-highest-ranking Republican in the House.

As soon as his interview began, host Shannon Bream pressed Scalise over the party's plans for Medicare and Social Security should they regain the House majority in this year's midterms. Bream presented the lawmaker with a message from a concerned Fox News viewer, who characterized the GOP's plan for Medicare as a potential "betrayal."

"He's a Republican, he's very worried about you cutting his Medicare," Bream said as she relayed the message she purported to have received on Twitter. "He says it's a dealbreaker and a betrayal by the GOP."

steve scalise fox news medicare
Above, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is seen at a press conference in late 2019. Scalise was confronted on Sunday about the GOP's proposed plans for Medicare and other services post-midterms. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

In June, the Republican Study Committee, of which Scalise is a member, released a budget plan that included numerous suggested reforms for Medicare and Social Security, including raising the eligibility ages for each program to 67 and 70, respectively. The proposal further called for withholding payments for individuals who retire early or had a certain level of income, and also suggested using private funding sources for Social Security to lower income taxes.

This proposal was sharply criticized by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said that the suggestions would, in effect, privatize Social Security and end Medicare "as we know it."

"House Republicans are openly threatening to cause an economic catastrophe in order to realize their obsession with slashing Medicare and Social Security," Henry Connelly, a Pelosi spokesman, said in a statement last week. "As House Republican leaders' own words constantly reveal, dismantling the pillars of American seniors' financial security is not a fringe view in the extreme MAGA House GOP, it is a broadly held obsession at the core of their legislative agenda."

During his Fox News Sunday appearance, Scalise pushed back on allegations that the GOP plans on "slashing" programs, calling them "a typical red herring by Democrats." He added that the reforms are meant to help the programs remain solvent in the years to come. Social Security and Medicare are estimated to hit bankruptcy by 2035 and 2028, respectively, according to Bloomberg.

"That is not something we have proposed," Scalise said. "We have proposed strengthening and shoring up Medicare and Social Security."

In contrast to the GOP's plans to preserve the two programs, Democrats have proposed raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans, allowing Social Security and Medicare to remain solvent without cutting benefits or altering eligibility.

"Nearly 3 out of 4 House Republicans have endorsed the Republican Study Committee plan to end Medicare as we know it, raise the retirement age and privatize Social Security and top Republicans are openly planning to cause a catastrophic default in order to force these devastating cuts into seniors," Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly told Newsweek. "What we heard in between Whip Scalise's desperate efforts to dodge the question is sadly fresh confirmation that 'shore up and strengthen' is the cruel Republican euphemism for the Republican Study Committee budget's devastating cuts to the Social Security and Medicare seniors rely upon."

Updated, 10/18/2022, 6:30 p.m. EST: This article was updated to include a statement from a Pelosi spokesman.