Down Debt

GOP will use debt ceiling to force spending cuts, McCarthy says


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said if Republicans win control of the House, the GOP would use the debt ceiling increase as leverage to force through spending cuts — which could include cuts to Medicare and Social Security — and limiting additional funding. to Ukraine.

“You can’t just continue down the path of continuing spending and increasing debt,” the California Republican told Punchbowl News in a recent interview. “And if people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time]like with anything else, there comes a time when, okay, we’ll provide you with more money, but you have to change your current behavior.

“We’re not just going to keep increasing your credit card limit, are we,” he added. “And we should seriously sit down together and [figure out] where can some waste be disposed of? Where can we make the economy stronger? »

Pressed on whether changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security were part of the debt ceiling discussions, McCarthy said he would not “predetermine” anything.

The debt limit – the country’s borrowing ceiling – will have to be lifted next year to protect the country’s credit rating and prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt. But McCarthy suggested his party would be willing to maintain the debt ceiling for policy changes.

The debt limit is the total amount of money the government is allowed to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including social security and health insurance benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt , tax refunds and other payments. The debt ceiling is not a new expenditure, but rather allows the government to finance existing legal obligations.

Congress raised the debt ceiling three times when Donald Trump was president, averting the market-shaking economic clashes that congressional Republicans forced when Democratic President Barack Obama was in office. During the Trump presidency, and during a period when Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress, the debt soared to $7 trillion.

McCarthy isn’t the first Republican to say he’s open to changes to rights programs. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis in as discretionary spending.

Those who work in the United States pay Social Security and Medicare taxes that go into federal trust funds. Upon retirement, based on a person’s lifetime earnings and other factors, a retiree is eligible to receive monthly Social Security payments. Similarly, Medicare is the federal health insurance program that applies to people age 65 and older or other disabled people.

In an interview in August, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that Social Security and Medicare programs automatically provide benefits to those who qualify, that is, those who have contributed to the system during their lifetime. professional life.

“If you qualify for the right, you get it regardless of the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that over 70% of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on autopilot. It’s never – you just don’t do proper monitoring. You don’t get in there and fix the programs that go broke. It’s just on autopilot.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has proposed “terminating” all federal programs after five years, meaning they would expire unless renewed. “If a law is worth obeying, Congress can pass it again,” Scott says in his proposal.

Worries over government spending are a frequent topic of discussion among Republicans when Democrats control the White House. Before McCarthy accused congressional Democrats and President Biden of spending too much money, former House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) complained about spending during Obama’s presidency.

McCarthy also signaled that additional aid to Ukraine, now in the ninth month of war with Russia, is unlikely if Republicans have a majority in the House. To date, Congress has provided more than $60 billion to the Eastern European country fighting an invasion from Russia, with strong bipartisan votes.

McCarthy suggested maintaining that support could be difficult.

“I think people are going to be sitting in a recession, and they’re not going to write Ukraine a blank check,” McCarthy said. “They just won’t.”

The Republican suggested that GOP voters would like to see US dollars fixing international issues closer to home.

“There are things [the Biden administration] doesn’t do nationally,” McCarthy said. “Not making the border and people are starting to weigh that. Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do, and it can’t be a blank check.

Amy B Wang contributed to this report.