WH dismisses McCarthy saying Medicare, Social Security cuts 'off the table' in debt ceiling talk

The White House says the House GOP saying it wants to "strengthen" entitlement programs is code for plans to cut them.

Published: January 30, 2023 2:04pm

Updated: January 30, 2023 2:31pm

The White House on Sunday dismissed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's statement – within hours of him making it – that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are now "off the table" in his a scheduled talk later this week with President Biden on the matter. 

The statement came amid House Republicans' stance that they won't pass a measure to raise the debt ceiling to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its loans unless the White House agrees to some offset spending cuts. 

The White House seized on McCarthy saying on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Republicans were committed to "strengthening" the programs – saying that was code for years-long efforts to try to privatize the benefits programs for older Americans.

House Republicans appear to have renewed that effort in their "Commitment to America" agenda that includes calls to strengthen the entitlement programs.

"For years, congressional Republicans have advocated for slashing earned benefits using Washington code words like 'strengthen,' when their policies would privatize Medicare and Social Security, raise the retirement age, or cut benefits," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Sunday in a statement obtained by The Hill newspaper. "House Republicans refuse to raise revenue from the wealthy, but insist they will 'strengthen' earned benefits programs."

McCarthy is set to meet with Biden on Wednesday.

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