Having voted for huge Medicare cuts, Republicans are now holding them hostage to lifting the debt ceiling. Talking Points Memo reports:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says substantial Medicare cuts must be part of a spending and deficit cut package to get his support to raise the debt limit.
In a Capitol briefing with reporters Friday, McConnell declared affirmatively that unspecified Medicare cuts are on the table in bipartisan debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, and he expects they'll be part of the final deal. But in response to a question from TPM, he went further than he has in the past in laying down a marker on that issue. Medicare cuts must be part of that deal to get his support, he says — even if negotiators manage to find trillions of dollars in savings elsewhere, even if his other priorities are met.
"To get my vote, for me, it's going to take short term [cuts, via spending caps]... Both medium and long-term, entitlements.," McConnell said. "Medicare will be part of the solution."
To clarify, I asked "[I]f [the Biden group] comes up with big cuts, trillions of dollars worth of cuts, but without substantially addressing Medicare, it won't get your vote?"
"Correct," McConnell said.
Sen. Harry Reid's office responds:
Republicans are holding the United States' credit hostage to ram through their plan to end Medicare. They are now saying they won't accept any plan to reduce the deficit unless it also cuts Medicare. Voters have resoundingly rejected this ideological agenda. Republicans should drop it and move on.
It strikes me as very odd that when Democrats actually did cut an incredibly wasteful Medicare program in order to insure more low-income Americans, Republicans fiercely resisted it and hammered them throughout the 2010 campaign for it. Now the GOP is insisting on deeper cuts in order to pay for tax cuts?
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