The White House hit back after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he wants to “strengthen” Medicare and Social Security, arguing on Sunday that the House GOP leader and his conference actually want to slash spending on the entitlement programs.
McCarthy said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” earlier Sunday that he wants to take cuts to Medicare and Social Security off the table in talks with Democrats over the debt ceiling, even though Republicans do want commitments on spending cuts generally. Instead, McCarthy said Republicans were committed to strengthening the programs.
The strengthening of entitlement programs laid out in the Republicans’ “Commitment to America” is vague. One of the legislative recommendations made in the plan is that Congress must “must be prepared to make reforms to extend the solvency of the entitlement programs.”
The White House rebuked the Speaker’s claim, saying on Sunday that Republicans have wanted to cut earned benefits for years.
“For years, congressional Republicans have advocated for slashing earned benefits using Washington code words like ‘strengthen,’ when their policies would privatize Medicare and Social Security, raise the retirement age, or cut benefits,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in an emailed statement. “House Republicans refuse to raise revenue from the wealthy, but insist they will ‘strengthen’ earned benefits programs.”
The White House argues that the only option for the GOP to “save” the entitlement programs is to make cuts, as House Republicans have ruled out raising more revenue from tax increases on the wealthy.
But McCarthy was adamant that Social Security and Medicare would be off the table in the conversations around the debt limit. McCarthy is set to meet with President Biden on Wednesday in a much-anticipated get-together between the two leaders.