House Republicans unveiled a list of policy goals called the “Commitment to America” in September. But a fabricated screenshot purporting to show the agenda has been circulating on social media. None of the items included in the image come from the agenda — although some echo proposals made by the conservative Republican Study Committee.
In the run-up to the midterm elections, House Republicans released a policy agenda on Sept. 23 called “Commitment to America,” broadly presenting the party’s positions on the economy, crime, health, government accountability and other issues.
But a bogus screenshot purporting to show the Republicans’ agenda has been circulating on social media.
The screenshot replicates the GOP’s “Commitment” logo, but the text included in the screenshot doesn’t match anything on the official website describing the plan.
Mark Bednar, spokesman for House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, told us in an email that “those are fabricated images with false information.”
The phony screenshot has been shared on many of the major platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.
While the image is fabricated, some of the claims it includes appear to be adapted from the conservative Republican Study Committee’s proposed 2023 budget. The RSC includes a majority of House Republicans — 158 of the 212 total Republican representatives — and produced a proposed budget with more specifics than the recently unveiled “Commitment to America.”
None of the claims in the image spreading on social media appear in the “Commitment to America,” which is light on the particulars of how government officials would reach the goals it has set.
We’ll go through each of the claims made in the fabricated screenshot below:
- “Make Social Security solvent by eliminating double-dipping. Retirees who have a pension, IRAs, 401k, disabled veteran benefits will be ineligible for Social Security benefits.”
There’s no proposal to bar retirees who have a pension, an Individual Retirement Arrangement, or a 401k from collecting Social Security benefits in either the “Commitment to America” or the RSC’s proposed budget.
The budget plan does, however, recommend discontinuing benefits for veterans who suffered an injury or disease while they were in the military, although not as a result of military service.
“In these cases, these payments are duplicative with [Social Security Disability Insurance] benefits,” the budget proposal says.
“Additionally, some people receive unemployability payments from the VA and regular Social Security benefits. The VA program is designed to cover the loss of ability to work for people that are in the workforce, not retirees that are drawing retirement benefits from Social Security. The RSC Budget would end this practice,” the proposal says.
The budget plan also encourages the use of IRAs or 401ks, saying: “The RSC Budget supports efforts to provide workers the freedom to choose how to save their own money for retirement. It urges lawmakers to consider legislative options that allow employers and employees to reduce their payroll tax liability and use those savings to invest in private retirement options. Americans should be free to invest their savings in the way that best fits their needs – whether that is Social Security, an employee retirement plan, or an individual retirement plan.”
- “Raise the age for Medicare eligibility to 75 and eligibility ends for anyone over the age of 90.”
The “Commitment to America” doesn’t say anything about raising the age for Medicare eligibility, and it does not propose cutting off benefits at 90 years old.
The proposed RSC budget, however, has a section titled: “Adjust the Medicare Eligibility Age to Reflect Life Expectancy.”
There, the budget proposal explains that “as beneficiaries continue to live longer, the ratio of workers to retirees shrinks, threatening the solvency of Medicare.”
Later, it says, “To address the increased demands on Medicare, the RSC Budget proposes aligning Medicare’s eligibility age with the normal retirement age for Social Security and then indexing this age to life expectancy.”
In the budget proposal’s section on Social Security, it recommends raising the age at which retirees are eligible to receive full benefits to 70.
Currently, Medicare is available to those who are 65 or older, and Social Security considers “full retirement age” to range from age 66 to 67, depending on when the beneficiary was born.
The budget proposal does not suggest ending Medicare eligibility for those who are 90 or older.
- “Tax Disabled Veteran benefits.”
There’s no mention of a tax on benefits for disabled veterans in either the “Commitment to America” or in the RSC’s budget plan.
As we noted earlier, the budget plan does recommend discontinuing benefits for certain veterans who are collecting “duplicative” benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance and would similarly end the practice of some veterans who collect “unemployability payments from the VA and regular Social Security benefits.”
So, while there is no proposal for a tax on benefits for veterans, the RSC’s proposed budget would have implications for veterans’ benefits.
- “Tax employer sponsored health care plans.”
Again, there’s nothing in the “Commitment to America” about this. And, in this case, the RSC’s budget plan specifically rejects a related proposal.
Right now, employers’ payments for employee health insurance premiums are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes.
The budget plan refers to this policy and says: “Though one method of reform would be to repeal the exclusion entirely and use the increased revenues to reduce tax rates across the board, this would cause immediate upheaval to the health insurance system that the exclusion has distorted for almost 80 years. Instead, the RSC Budget would reform the tax treatment of private health insurance in a revenue-neutral manner by providing a capped exclusion for all spending on health insurance by and on behalf of the tax filer, as well as for related dependents.”
The budget plan doesn’t detail the “revenue-neutral” tax treatment of private health insurance, so the impact of a capped exclusion proposal on employer-sponsored health insurance plans isn’t clear.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
The Republican Commitment to America. Republicanleader.gov. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.
Bednar, Mark. Spokesman, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. Email to FactCheck.org. 25 Oct 2022.
Republican Study Committee. Fiscal Year 2023 Budget. Banks.house.gov. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.
Medicare. U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare.gov. Accessed 26 Oct 2022.
Tax Policy Center. Key Elements of the U.S. Tax System. How does the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance work? Accessed 26 Oct 2022.