The White House has made it clear that it will not support the creation of any commissions to make changes—and possible cuts—to Social Security and Medicare  and any other U.S. trust funds that a significant portion of the American people depend on. They rejected an idea endorsed by Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that has been proposed amid a critical standoff over the nation’s debt ceiling.

In a statement to Bloomberg Government, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates labeled the proposed commissions as a “death panel for Medicare and Social Security,” recalling the term GOP lawmakers used during their attack on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Bates argued that the renewed GOP push for these commissions are “the latest in a long line of ultimatums about how they’ll act to kill jobs, businesses, and retirement accounts if they can’t cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.”

The commissions are part of the TRUST Act, a legislation that Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Manchin (D-W.Va.), and other lawmakers reintroduced in 2021 (when Sinema was still technically a Democrat) and have regularly advocated as a potential route to a bipartisan agreement on Social Security and Medicare.

Nevertheless, advocates caution that the commissions—similar to the Obama-era Bowles-Simpson initiative—are an effort to quickly reduce Social Security and Medicare. Under the TRUST Act, bipartisan panels of lawmakers would be formed with the mandate to draft “legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves” the programs—a vague and highly subjective standard.

Many read that as cutting both programs and slashing benefits that Americans have paid for throughout their working lives.

The legislation would then be given expedited consideration in Congress, with no amendments allowed.

In other words, it would be shoved down the nation’s throat — lock, stock, and barrel.

As recent as last month, Manchin proposed the TRUST Act as a possible way to reach a compromise with the House GOP to avoid a debt ceiling crisis. Republicans have requested drastic cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicare, and discretionary spending—which includes education, healthcare, and climate costs—as part of any deal to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit.

Bloomberg Law reported Monday that House Republican committee and caucus chairs have backed the idea of establishing this commission in recent days.

“I don’t believe we’re going to do what is necessary and right, which is save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, without having a bipartisan mechanism,” said Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), chair of the House Budget Committee and a co-sponsor of the TRUST Act.

Some interpret that statement as Republicans needing Democrat support to do what they have wanted to do for many decades — take away some American’s Social Security and Medicare and leave the rest with less in benefits. Republicans have tried and failed in the past to do such things. 

Senator Ron Johnson has proposed even renegotiating them every year. Senator Rick Scott scaled that back to every 5 years — apparently in an effort to appear “moderate.” Both ideas have hit a brick wall with Democrats.

There have been other efforts, including attempts to privatize them. But turning our trust funds over to Wall Street, which has proven itself to be more volatile than some would like to admit, doesn’t sit well with most Americans.

One idea Republicans strangely dismiss is significantly raising or even eliminating the cap on earnings that can be taxed for Social Security and Medicare via the FICA tax. Some experts believe a plan along those lines is the right thing to do to ensure solvency.

Social Security Works, a progressive advocacy group that has been a vocal opponent of the TRUST Act, praised the White House’s statement in opposition to the TRUST Act.

“They are absolutely right—the TRUST Act is a ploy to gut Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors,” the group tweeted late Monday. “We need to expand Social Security’s modest benefits, never cut them.”