October 19, 2018

McConnell Talks Entitlement Spending

In an interview with Bloomberg News, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed rising federal deficits and debt on a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."


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From the Left

The left accuses McConnell and the GOP of only caring about the deficit when it suits their agenda, and warns that cuts to social safety net programs would have dire consequences for millions of Americans.

“After spending the Obama era frowning and sighing about how the national deficit... was troublingly high, Republicans decided last year to explode that same figure with a tax cut package massively tilted toward the rich and corporations. When warned by various experts that cutting taxes would mean lower revenues and therefore higher deficits, Republicans attacked those analyses as biased and claimed the deficit wouldn't go up all that much. Predictably, the experts were right and the deficit did increase...

“[Now] after Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that jacked up military spending among other priorities, McConnell is apparently back to caring about the deficit.”


Many note that “Obama doggedly pursued a fiscal ‘grand bargain’ several times in his first term that would have cut Social Security in exchange for some new revenue. A major factor in the collapse of those talks were the objections of an ultra-conservative faction of House Republicans to then-Speaker John Boehner offering Obama any new revenue."

Huffington Post

“Even as McConnell blames ‘entitlements’ (that is, Medicare and Social Security) for deficits, and declares (falsely) that Medicare in particular is ‘unsustainable,’ Paul Ryan’s super PAC has been running ads accusing Democrats of wanting to cut Medicare. The cynicism is breathtaking.”

New York Times

“It is true that those programs make up a large share of federal spending... An aging population will put a strain on the program like it hasn’t seen before. But on the other hand, Social Security benefits in particular are not exactly robust — the average check is just $1,300 a month — and we know that the program plays a big role in helping American seniors stay out of poverty...

Governing is about priorities. Democrats have run on expanding Social Security benefits and extending Medicare coverage to every American. They’re proposing higher taxes on the wealthy and on corporations to pay for those plans. Republicans are going hard in the other direction: lower taxes for businesses, fewer benefits for vulnerable Americans.”


From the Right

The right accuses the media of distorting McConnell’s words, but worries that bringing up entitlement reform before the midterms could backfire.

The right accuses the media of distorting McConnell’s words, but worries that bringing up entitlement reform before the midterms could backfire.

“McConnell did not suggest that Republicans had any ‘plan’ to make significant changes to those programs; he suggested that he thought any such effort was doomed for failure without Democratic support... You can certainly make the case that Republicans should be seeking to rein in the growth of those programs; I’ve made that case myself. But there’s no sign that they have any plans to take up this challenge after the elections."

National Review

Furthermore, “President Trump told the Associated Press... that he will not sign a bill that would make changes to Social Security."

Washington Examiner

“With less than three weeks left until the midterms, McConnell may have just handed the Democrats the economic argument they had been longing for at the worst possible moment for the Republicans... the Senate majority leader stepped on a figurative grenade and signaled that he was ready to throw granny from a moving train to placate the donor gods."

The Hill

Minority view: The fiscal recklessness that Republicans have shown while in power is only going to reinforce the view on the Left that Republicans are acting in bad faith when they voice concerns about rising debt. This means when Democrats are back in power, they are much less likely to want to talk entitlement reform or responsible budgeting with Republicans."

Washington Examiner

Many caution that reform is necessary. “America is paying for current consumption of government services using the government’s credit card that will be paid for by future generations. If it’s all about the children, as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says, we’re not doing them any favors... entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid continues to exceed federal revenue increases... no one wants to tell the public that these programs need to be reformed if they are to survive."

USA Today

Entitlements are a far bigger debt-driver than the recent tax cuts are... Assuming they’re extended, and factoring in interest costs and economic growth, the tax cuts will cost perhaps $2.7 trillion over a decade... [By contrast] Social Security and Medicare face a cash deficit of $82 trillion over the next three decades."

National Review

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Omaha World-Herald

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