White House slams Mike Pence as ‘flat wrong’ on Medicare reform

Former Vice President Mike Pence gives remarks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation's conference at the Library of Congress on Feb. 16.

The White House slammed former Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday after he said “common sense reforms” are needed to federal programs like Medicare — a key issue emerging in the 2024 presidential election.

“Mike Pence – and congressional Republicans – are flat wrong about cutting Medicare and banning abortion,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Bates added: "Americans don’t want their earned benefits cut, they don’t want their freedoms curtailed, and they’re tired of divisive attacks on mainstream values."

Pence, who is considering a bid to be the GOP nominee for the 2024 presidential election, on Tuesday criticized President Joe Biden for not wanting to discuss reforms to Social Security and Medicare, while also taking a dig at his former boss and other Republicans for taking the same position as Biden.

“What we need now is leadership because, if we act in this moment with the support of this generation, we can introduce common sense reforms that will never touch anyone who is in retirement, or anyone who will retire in the next 25 years,” Pence said in remarks to college students at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

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Biden previously critical of GOP stance on Medicare reform

Biden has been critical of some Republicans for supporting reforms that could end those federal programs.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced a plan last year that would sunset all government programs, including Social Security and Medicare, after five years. He has since amended the plan. Some key Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, have distanced themselves from Scott’s plan.

During Biden’s State of the Union speech in February, the president was met with boos from Republicans after he said that they wanted to sunset Medicare and Social Security.

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Medicare, Social Security key issue for 2024 presidential race

But whether to reform these programs has emerged as a wedge issue in the 2024 presidential race.

Nikki Haley, who already threw her hat into the 2024 GOP contest, indicated last week that she was open to cuts in the program for younger generations. Former President Donald Trump, who has also said he will run for president again, also took a hit at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for previously proposing raising the age for Social Security or privatize Medicare.

However, DeSantis, who has not made an announcement to run for president, has recently said “we’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans.”

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2024 presidential candidates: White House slams Pence over Medicare