WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed Wednesday that House Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare as they demand spending cuts in return for an increase in the debt ceiling – although House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly ruled out such reductions.
Jean-Pierre denounced the changes to the social safety net – which McCarthy has already taken off the table – after being asked about President Biden saying on Tuesday that “I have no intention of letting the Republicans destroy our economy” despite his own refusal to negotiate with Republicans on the federal debt limit.
“[Biden is] going to call on Republicans, especially in the House, who say they want to cut Social Security, who have been very clear that they want to cut Medicare, they want to cut Medicaid or defense. That’s what they say,” said Jean-Pierre.
“The president said he was going to fight every day to protect these taxpayer-funded programs. And we need to remember these programs, they benefit veterans, they benefit our seniors and taxpayers who, again, have earned the right to be part of these programs. So yes, he will call it when he sees that there is a real danger against these programs.
Jean-Pierre acted as if the House Republican majority intended to cut Social Security and Medicare despite McCarthy (R-Calif.) specifically ruling out cuts nearly 24 hours a day at the forward in a TV interview and then again in a Wednesday morning meeting with Sen. Joe Manchin. (D-WVa.).
On Tuesday, PKB Business anchor Larry Kudlow, a former Trump White House economist, asked McCarthy to respond to “those little White House morons — they say you’re going to cut Social Security, you’re going to cut Medicare and you’re going to default on interest payments on the bonds.
“None of that is true,” McCarthy replied. “And that’s the bad side here. First the administration said it would not negotiate and then it wants to play politics. Why are they so scared to sit down to find where you can dispose of the waste? »
On Wednesday morning, Manchin met with McCarthy to discuss the debt ceiling standoff and told reporters afterward that the Republican leader had agreed that cuts to Social Security and Medicare should not do. part of the negotiations.
Biden himself claimed on Tuesday that Republicans in Congress are “really serious about cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare” – signaling that this will be part of the concerted message from the White House in the debt ceiling impasse, which could last for months.
In a Wednesday afternoon email to reporters titled “Why would ANYONE think House Republicans are considering cutting Social Security and Medicare?” a White House official defended the message.
The White House official wrote to the conservative Republican Review Committee, a group that represents 156 of the 222 House Republicans, “has called for the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, and their current president [Kevin Hern] targeted programs again this week.
Hern (R-Okla.) told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday that there should be bipartisan legislation raising the retirement age for a “kid who hasn’t paid a single dollar in payroll taxes.” .
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) told The Washington Post that “[n]o anyone who needs social security now, or who expects to get it in the near future, should be impacted” by such reforms.
McCarthy told Kudlow on Tuesday that he wanted to cut government spending unrelated to benefit programs. And others, like House Republican No. 4, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, have floated around scooping up unspent portions of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed in 2021.
“It’s irresponsible for the president not to sit down and negotiate,” McCarthy said.
“All I’m asking for is a responsible increase in the debt ceiling. And that means finding common ground. Where are we wasting money? Let’s get that out of the way and get on the path to balancing our budget. »
McCarthy also hit back at Biden’s rhetoric blaming Republicans for potential economic damage, saying, “[Biden] plays with the American financial markets by saying that he would not negotiate. We have reached the limit, so we have until June or July. »