In an interview Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) confirmed that Congressional Republicans plan again to use the upcoming debt limit to hold the nation hostage to their demands for massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security. His comments echoed earlier remarks by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and anti-government activist Grover Norquist.
Raising the debt ceiling does not mean spending more money — it merely allows the administration to take out the necessary debt to pay for the spending already authorized by Congress and the interest on the debt that has already been approved by Congresses past. While the nation reached the current debt limit yesterday, the Department of the Treasury is using accounting measures to keep the government from default for the next couple of months.
But McCain told CNN that Republicans would again block legislation to keep the nation from defaulting on its obligations, unless they can force major cuts to vital entitlement programs — even though doing so would be highly unpopular:
WOLF BLITZER (HOST): Are you going to use the raising of the debt ceiling in February or March, Senator McCain, as leverage to get what you want from the president?
McCAIN: I think there’s gonna be a whole new field of battle [laughs] when the debt ceiling rolls around. Most of us have pledged that we’re gonna have to… before we vote again to address the debt ceiling — even though it may be at great political cost — we’ve got to address spending, and that means entitlements. We’ve got to sit down together and get us back on a path… look, we just added, what was it, $2.1 trillion in the last increase in the debt ceiling, and spending continues to go up. I think there’s gonna be a pretty big showdown the next time around when we go to the debt [limit].
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But now, McCain and other Republicans are making it clear: either programs protecting the health and financial solvency of American seniors must be significantly cut — or they will thrust the nation into an economic calamity unheard of since the Great Depression.