Republicans and Democrats agreed to increase the debt ceiling for three months at the end of January, but with another deadline approaching in May, the top Senate Republican is hinting that the GOP will again demand spending cuts in exchange for any increase.
That is par for the course for Republicans, who have repeatedly threatened to let the nation default on its obligations if President Obama and Senate Democrats don’t agree to cut spending, but this time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the GOP will likely demand cuts to America’s entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — to agree to an increase in the borrowing limit, The Hill reports:
“Until we make our entitlement programs fit the demographics of our country, you can’t save America, you can’t save the healthcare system,” McConnell said. “There is no revenue solution, I would say to you.”
“We all anticipate that the president’s request of us to raise the debt ceiling, which we’ll probably do sometime this will generate another, hopefully, another discussion about solving the real problem,” he said.
Republicans continue to crow about entitlement reform, ignoring that Social Security is fully solvent for at least two decades, that Obama extended Medicare’s solvency by nine years as part of his sweeping healthcare law, and that at least one of the major reforms Republicans favor — raising the retirement age for Medicare enrollees — would do nothing to improve the program’s health. Meanwhile, the GOP refuses to actually put forth specific entitlement reform plans that would do anything other than end the programs as they exist today.
Using the debt ceiling to extract such cuts is an even less reasonable position, given the pain the GOP’s debt intransigence has already inflicted on the economy. The 2011 debt fight led to increased borrowing costs, hampered job growth for months, and created the automatic budget cuts that went into effect at the beginning of March — all of which burdened an economy that is still struggling to fully recover from the Great Recession. That brinksmanship has led leading policymakers like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as well as a vast majority of economists, to call for the abolition of the statutory debt limit.