Public polling, the NY-26 outcome, and other objective indicators make it clear Republicans have boxed themselves into a political corner with their plan to end Medicare. It’s a big problem for them politically, and there’s no easy way out, especially since virtually every Republican in Congress is now on the record, with a vote, that they favor gutting Medicare.
So how are they gonna get out of this jam? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just made it clear in a briefing with reporters on the Hill: They’re going to hold the government’s debt limit as hostage in order to back their way out of this political tight spot.
How? McConnell just announced he will not support raising the debt ceiling unless big Medicare cuts are part of the deal. Translation: Unless Democrats get us off the hook by agreeing to deep Medicare cuts (meaning Democrats can no longer attack Republicans for wanting to eliminate Medicare), then we’re going to force the federal government into default on its debt.
What if McConnell extracted substantial other cuts from the White House to achieve the GOP’s spending cuts goal? No matter, McConnell says. If Medicare cuts aren’t part of the deal, then no dice on the debt ceiling — U.S. economy and world financial system be damned.
It’s as stark as that. And the decision for Democrats is equally stark: Do you negotiate with hostage-takers?
Brian Beutler has our full report.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.