AOC and Sanders call McCarthy’s bluff on Social Security and Medicare cuts
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders both called House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bluff on saying Social Security and Medicare will be off the table during negotiations.
Mr McCarthy delivered an address on Monday evening to pre-empt President Joe Biden’s the State of the Union address on Tuesday, laying out the need for spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.
"Cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table,” he said.
But Ms Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described democratic socialist congresswoman from New York, said she is still worried about the cuts.
“Kevin McCarthy says a lot of things, but the math does not add up in what he’s talking about,” she told The Independent.
Mr McCarthy said in his address that Congress needed to get on the path towards balancing the budget.
“Future generations deserve nothing less. A responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful Washington spending and puts us on a path towards a balanced budget,” Mr McCarthy said on Monday. “It’s not only the right place to start. It’s the only place to start.”
But Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that when factoring in discretionary spending and military spending, there was not enough to cut to reach Mr McCarthy’s goal.
“He cannot both say, we’re going to balance the budget, we’re not going to touch any of the Trump tax cuts, and we’re also not going to cut any criticial services,” she said. “The math does not work in Kevin McCarthy’s favor.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she worried also about Medicaid.
“I’m worried about Medicaid and I’m also still worried about Social Security and Medicare,” she said.
Similarly, Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, told The Independent that Mr McCarthy is captive to right-wing Republicans who do want to cut the programs.
“I’m glad to hear that, but there are some Republicans who don’t agree with that,” he said. “So we have to be very vigilant. But the truth of the matter is it’s outrgeous the Republicans will hold hostage the American people paying their debts, the collapse of the international economy and that cannot be allowed to happen.”
During his address, Mr Biden needled Republicans on Social Security and Medicare, pointing to a policy by Senator Rick Scott of Florida arguing that every law should sunset after five years, including the two highly popular programs.
“That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away,” he said. That led to some jeers from Republicans and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia yelled “Liar.”
“I’m not saying it’s a majority of you,” he said. “I’m politely not naming them but it’s being proposed by certain individuals.”
In response, Mr Biden asked Republicans if they would not touch the two programs.
“As we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now,” he said, which led to applause.
“So tonight, let’s all agree to stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare,” he said.