Florida Governor and Republican primary hopeful Ron DeSantis has shown a shifting stance on Social Security, sparking discussions and drawing attention to his varied statements over the years. This federal safety net, officially known as the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, currently supports nearly 70 million Americans with pensions, disability benefits, and survivor benefits.
Historically, conservative Republicans have raised concerns over the program's costs. However, efforts to reform Social Security remain contentious. A recent AP-NORC poll, highlighted by CNN, revealed that 79% of Americans oppose reducing the benefits.
DeSantis Defends Social Security
DeSantis recently voiced support for maintaining Social Security. During a CNN debate, he criticized former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a fellow GOP candidate, for proposing an increase in the retirement age, considering the U.S.'
s increasing life expectancy. Americans currently become eligible for benefits at 62. DeSantis expressed skepticism about raising the retirement age due to declining life expectancy in the country. He empathized with seniors relying on Social Security, especially amidst rising prices, pledging to ensure the continuation of their benefits.
Contrastingly, at an Iowa town hall, DeSantis hinted at potential fraud within the system, suggesting some disability claimants might be exploiting it. He also indicated openness to restructuring Social Security for younger Americans, aiming to ensure the program's long-term viability.
DeSantis' current position seems to have softened compared to over a decade ago. During his 2012 House campaign, he supported then-Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Social Security, labeling it unsustainable in a St. Augustine Record interview.
He advocated for a system offering basic coverage for low-income individuals, while allowing others to opt for more comprehensive plans. In Congress, DeSantis voted for budget resolutions proposing to raise the age threshold for federal benefits to 70 and supported restructuring Social Security and Medicare for financial sustainability.
While DeSantis' evolving views on Social Security continue to be a topic of debate, former President Donald Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden have both shown more consistent support for the program. Trump, in a recent attack ad, criticized Haley's retirement age policy as a "threat from within," and his campaign website vows to protect Medicare and Social Security.