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- Kevin McCarthy has promised that cuts to Medicare and Social Security won’t be part of a debt limit deal.
- AOC told The Independent she’s concerned they might still be cut given lack of details on GOP spending cuts.
- During the State of the Union address, Republicans heckled Biden for saying they want to cut the programs.
AOC is worried that GOP promises to leave Medicare and Social Security alone might not hold up.
As debt limit negotiations have been heating up, Republican lawmakers have expressed their intent to use raising the debt limit — and keeping the US on top of paying its bills — as leverage to achieve their own priorities, particularly spending cuts.
And while some Republicans previously expressed a desire to cut Medicare and Social Security, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy made clear last month that cuts to those programs are “off the table.” Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, however, isn’t convinced.
“Kevin McCarthy says a lot of things, but the math does not add up in what he’s talking about,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent.
“He cannot both say, we’re going to balance the budget, we’re not going to touch any of the Trump tax cuts, and we’re also not going to cut any critical services,” she continued. “The math does not work in Kevin McCarthy’s favor.”
The day before Biden’s State of the Union, McCarthy delivered remarks of his own on negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, reiterating that “cuts to to Medicare and Social Security are off the table” and saying that “it’s time for Washington to change its behavior and act like adults.”
“First, we will continue to sit down and negotiate – just as President Biden did in the past,” McCarthy said. “Second, we must commit to finding common ground on a responsible debt limit increase. Finding compromise is exactly how governing in America is supposed to work – and exactly what the American people voted for just three months ago.”
Still, McCarthy did not specify what exactly he wants to cut, raising questions on the GOP’s plans to reach a debt limit deal. Social Security and Medicare also took a spotlight during the State of the Union — when Biden made a remark accusing Republicans of wanting to cut the two programs, he was heckled by some lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who repeatedly called him a “liar.”
But Biden went back and forth with Republicans in real time during his speech, saying “Social Security and its bookend, Medicare, are off the books now, right?” And when both parties applauded leaving cuts to the programs off the table, Biden declared, “We have unanimity!”
—MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 8, 2023
Some Republicans are not quite ready to take Medicare and Social Security out of the conversation. They’ve introduced legislation that would create commissions to consider the solvency of Social Security and Medicare as part of a debt limit deal, and GOP Rep. Kevin Hern told Bloomberg he “wouldn’t think it’d be off the table.”
But the White House slammed that idea, with spokesperson Andrew Bates telling Bloomberg after it was reported that “the American people want more jobs and lower costs, not a death panel for Medicare and Social Security.”
“Meanwhile, they’re voting to worsen the deficit with tax welfare for the rich and big corporations,” Bates said. “Think about that: they’re targeting the Medicare and Social Security benefits that middle class families pay in to earn their whole lives, then turning around and giving tax handouts to big corporations.”