Speaker McCarthy: Cuts to Social Security, Medicare Are ‘Off the Table’

Speaker McCarthy: Cuts to Social Security, Medicare Are ‘Off the Table’
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, holds a press conference in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 12, 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday confirmed that the GOP will not attempt to pass legislation cutting spending to Medicare and Social Security following warnings from other prominent Republican leaders.

In an interview with CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” McCarthy was asked about whether Republicans will float cuts to the two programs amid negotiations over the debt ceiling. “No. Let’s take those off the table,” he said in response.

“I mean, if you read our commitment to America, all we talk about is strengthening Medicare and Social Security. So, and I know the president says he doesn’t want to look at it, but we’ve got to make sure we strengthen those,” McCarthy added.

However, McCarthy indicated that other federal agencies and programs could be under the microscope in the coming days and weeks.

“What I want to look at is they’ve increased spending by 30 percent, $400 billion in four years. When you look at what they have done, adding $10 trillion of debt for the next ten years in the short time period, if you just look a month ago, they went through and they never even passed a bill through appropriations in the Senate,” the speaker said, referring to congressional Democrats.

Defense spending, including military aid to Ukraine, could be targeted, McCarthy suggested.

“I want to make sure we’re protected in our defense spending, but I want to make sure it’s effective and efficient,” he told CBS News. “I want to look at every single dollar we are spending, no matter where it is being spent.”

“You’re gonna tell me inside Defense there’s no waste?” McCarthy also asked on Sunday. “We shouldn’t just print more money. We should balance our budget.”

The White House has maintained it will not negotiate with the GOP on spending cuts amid the debt ceiling fight. McCarthy said that he will meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

“I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the president is gonna be willing to make an agreement together,” McCarthy said. “So I want to sit down together, work out an agreement that we can move forward to put us on a path of balance, at the same time not put any of our debt in jeopardy at the same time,” he added.

Debt Limit

Earlier in January, the United States reached its statutory debt limit of about $31.4 trillion, triggering warnings from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said she would have to take “extraordinary measures” to offset a possible default. Yellen has said that she could continue to take such measures until sometime in June 2023.
Over this weekend, Yellen again issued warnings about a potential default. “It would be devastating. It’s a catastrophe,” she told Axios.

If there is a default, the United States would enter a “financial crisis,” Yellen added. “And I believe we would have recession in the United States.”

But McCarthy insisted Sunday that the federal government wouldn’t default on its debt, which would be unprecedented in U.S. history and would have deleterious effects on the nation’s credit and worldwide economy.

“But let’s take a pause,” he said. “We have hundreds of billions of dollars. This [default] won’t come to fruition until some time in June. So the responsible thing to do is sit down like two adults.”

It comes as former President Donald Trump issued a warning to fellow Republicans about cutting Social Security and Medicare, federal programs that are often used by retired Americans.

“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a video released earlier in January. “Cut waste, fraud and abuse everywhere that we can find it and there is plenty, there’s plenty of it,” Trump added. “But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”

Several weeks ago, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that the GOP should make changes to Social Security and other entitlement programs amid the debt ceiling fight.

“There’s a set of solutions there that we really need to take on if we’re going to get serious about making these programs sustainable and getting this debt bomb at a manageable level before it’s too late,” Thune told reporters in November.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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