Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has promised to keep Medicare and Social Security cutbacks off the table during debt ceiling negotiations, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told reporters on Wednesday. It followed a meeting between the two politicians earlier today to discuss lifting the debt limit, a topic that has recently caused tension between Democrats and Republicans as they try to figure out a solution to keep the United States current with its debt payments.
According to reports: Manchin pushed McCarthy to talk and try to find a path ahead that would minimize harming Americans, and the discussion went well overall, despite no pledges being made.
The United States government has officially reached its debt ceiling as of last week, and President Joe Biden’s administration has asked House Republicans to cooperate bipartisanly to avoid a default on the country’s debts and the risk for a global financial crisis and recession. Republican leaders have said they want to use the issue of lifting the debt ceiling as leverage to get their own way on other issues, and there have been rumors that they are considering slashing spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security.
But Manchin, a moderate holdout on some prior Democratic proposals, said on Sunday that Republicans shouldn’t take Medicare and Social Security into account in current talks.
“There won’t be any changes or reductions to anyone’s benefits in any way, shape, or form. Because they deserve it. The money was contributed by them. Put that idea out of your mind, “In his words. But that is being used as a bargaining chip by everyone.
Even former President Trump weighed in on the discussion, pleading with Republicans in a video message last week to refrain from slashing funding for such initiatives.
Trump urged Republicans in the video not to vote for any legislation that would reduce funding for Medicare or Social Security by even a single penny. Cut “waste, fraud, and abuse” “anywhere that we can find it and there is plenty, there is plenty,” he said. “However, we must not slash the benefits that our elderly have earned and paid for throughout their lifetimes. Don’t let them ruin Social Security.”
McCarthy has not made any public statements regarding his meeting with Manchin; nevertheless, he has previously denied any consideration of budget cuts for the aforementioned programs.
In these talks, it is still unknown what additional kinds of cuts Republicans are discussing. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remarked on the Senate floor that the Republican Party should come clean about its plans “If Republicans are serious about implementing such drastic reductions, they should lay out the details for the American people and gauge their reaction. What about programs like Social Security, Medicare, child care, and even federal aid like Pell Grants?”
Biden and McCarthy are scheduled to meet to discuss the negotiations at some point, although when exactly is still up in the air. The government has begun employing “exceptional measures” to keep the country afloat, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Republicans, but those measures are projected to run out at some point this summer, meaning the GOP needs to come to an agreement by then to prevent a disastrous default.
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