House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has privately ruled out proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, according to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who told reporters Wednesday the speaker assured him in a meeting the programs won’t be touched.
McCarthy plans to demand several spending cuts in exchange for a deal with President Joe Biden to raise the debt ceiling, which must be raised by June to prevent the federal government from defaulting on its obligations, but he hasn’t specified what those cuts might be.
Speculation grew recently McCarthy might propose changes to Social Security and Medicare in response to pressure from a group of conservative hardliners he made a deal with to win the speakership, even though the White House has repeatedly blasted the idea as a non-starter.
McCarthy said last week he will meet with Biden to discuss a solution to the debt ceiling standoff, but the White House quickly sent out a statement afterward saying the two will “discuss a range of issues,” claiming the president will not negotiate spending cuts.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
The federal government hit its $31.4 trillion debt limit Thursday, leading Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to take “extraordinary measures,” like suspending new investments in certain funds, to avert a potentially catastrophic default. The nation has never defaulted on its debt in history, and experts warn if it were to occur, it would almost certainly send the stock market plummeting and push the nation into a recession. Yellen has estimated her maneuvers should allow the federal government to keep paying its bills through June 5, also known as the “X-date” for raising the debt ceiling. If lawmakers and the president don’t reach an agreement by then, the nation will likely default.
Former President Donald Trump came out strongly against cutting Social Security and Medicare in a 2024 campaign video Friday, saying: “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that McCarthy must take the lead on ending the debt ceiling showdown, since he believes the Democratic-majority Senate would be unlikely to come up with a deal able to pass the Republican-controlled House. “I can’t imagine any kind of debt ceiling measure that could pass the Senate that would also pass the House,” McConnell said.