Trump Joins Debt Ceiling Debate, Urging GOP To Spare Entitlements
He urges Republicans not to cut ‘the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives.’
As Republicans eye budget cuts in the ongoing debt ceiling fight, President Trump has entered the conversation by telling his party not to cut even one cent from Medicare or Social Security.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on his Truth Social platform. “The pain should be borne by Washington bureaucrats not by hardworking American families and American seniors.”
Mr. Trump then offered other areas for cuts, like “left wing gender programs in our military” and “climate extremism.”
“Cut the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars going to corrupt foreign countries, cut the mass releases of illegal aliens that are depleting our social safety net,” Mr. Trump said. “But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives.”
Mr. Trump’s statement comes one day after America officially reached its debt ceiling, a congressionally imposed limit on the amount of money the Department of Treasury is allowed to borrow.
The treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, sent a letter to Speaker McCarthy Thursday officially notifying him of this development and warning that the amount of time the country can operate before defaulting on its debt is subject to “considerable uncertainty.”
Ms. Yellen’s best estimate for when the “extraordinary measures” she is taking to pay the government’s debt will reach the end of their rope is “before early June.”
The Democrats, led by President Biden, have signaled that they are unwilling to negotiate on the debt ceiling, citing the fact that the spending has already been approved and that this new debt would be to pay for it.
“Congress is going to need to raise the debt limit without — without — conditions and it’s just that simple,” the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said earlier this month.
Republicans, led by Mr. McCarthy, have signaled that they will not be approving any increase in the debt limit unless there are associated spending cuts.
“We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts,” Mr. McCarthy told Fox News. “The Senate has to recognize we’re not going to budge until we see meaningful reform with respect to spending.”
The problem for Republicans is that they have been so far unable to coalesce around what exactly it is that they want to cut from the federal budget.
One Republican representative, Rick Allen, has suggested that instead of cutting Social Security benefits, Congress could raise the retirement age, saying, “People come up to me, they actually want to work longer.”
A similar proposal in France, where President Macron’s government is pushing to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62, is sparking widespread and sometimes violent protests.
Mr. McCarthy has also floated the idea of limiting defense spending to 2022 levels, a proposal that both Republicans and Democrats have criticized.
Adding to the uncertainty is that Mr. McCarthy, in seeking the speakership, reportedly made private concessions, the details of which are unknown, to the holdouts.
The stakes in the debt ceiling conflict are high. An assistant director and economist at Moody’s Analytics estimates that a default would cost Americans $15 million in household wealth and eliminate 6 million jobs.