Where Things Stand: Save This Clip For Next Time They Pretend They Don’t Wanna Cut Soc Security, Medicare

This is your TPM evening briefing.
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is seemingly trying to get a handful of far-right members of the Freedom Caucus to chill out and stop threatening to redo the speakership election. They’re not likely to successfully depose him, but no one is eager for a redo of the January spectacle as a few loud members seek to reassert their authority. And, so, in what is seemingly a half-hearted effort to throw them a bone, McCarthy went on Fox News and promised to create some vague “commission” that’ll review further cuts to next year’s budget.

The speaker then took it a step further. Instead of just promising that “this isn’t the end” and proposing some sort of additional amorphous cuts to quell a hardliner uprising, McCarthy doubled down, raising the possibility that this next step commission could look into gutting Social Security and Medicare. Music, in theory, to the ears of a salivating Freedom Caucus.

Here’s the full exchange quickly:

McCarthy: “We only got to look at 11 percent of the budget to find these cuts. We have to look at the entire budget. The Congress has done this before after World War II –“

Harris Faulkner: “Why didn’t you see the whole budget?”

McCarthy: “The president walled off all the others. The majority driver of the budget is mandatory spending. It’s Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt.”

Faulkner: “And he wouldn’t let you see? Wow.”

You’ll remember that the majority of Republicans in Congress — not just Freedom Caucus members — signed on to one or more proposals to enact sweeping entitlement cuts. The loud few remain butthurt that McCarthy did not secure those massive cuts in a compromise with the White House, a sin only further aggravated when the CBO score on the deal released last night found that the work requirement changes to SNAP would actually … increase spending on federal nutrition programs.

But overall it’s a fitting end to this dramatic saga as Republicans near the conclusion of their debt ceiling hostage-taking with the vote expected to pass this evening.

McCarthy said back in January that cuts to Social Security and Medicare were “off the table” as he launched into the debt-ceiling hostage gambit, playing his part as the newly elected speaker from a party that claims it cares about blocking reckless government spending.

Broadly speaking, Republicans have been trying to hollow out both Medicare and Social Security for decades, only to reverse course when the public catches on and paint their fixation with gutting the programs as innocent efforts to reform entitlements. In most recent memory, this about face played out live on television.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) pissed off his fellow Republicans when he put out a party policy proposal that too clearly spelled out the fact that the GOP wants to sunset both. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had to come out and distance himself from the Scott proposal and Donald Trump used the opening to go after his then-potential primary opponents’ stances on the issue.

This latest round of the GOP’s Medicare/Social Security-gutting fake out came to a head during this year’s State Of The Union address, when President Biden rather skillfully cornered Republicans into agreeing not to push for cuts to either program mid-speech.

But McCarthy appears happy to feign amnesia to continue clutching the gavel.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

Catch up on our live coverage here: How Many Times Will Dems Have To Save McCarthy

Related: GOP’s Proposed Expansion Of SNAP Work Requirements Targets Many Low-Income People In Their Early 50s Who Already Work

Trump Attacks DeSantis For ‘Blatantly’ Plagiarizing A Speech Line That Trump Actually Took From Reagan

Paxton’s Replacement Fought To Overturn 2020 Election—But Not Like Paxton Did

Related reading: How Ken Paxton Went From Teflon Ken To Being Impeached By His Own Party

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

QAnon Shaman Is Out Of Prison And Being Treated Like A Hero — David Kurtz

What We Are Reading

Trump captured on tape talking about classified document he kept after leaving the White House  — CNN

Nikki Haley’s husband to deploy with National Guard to Africa as she seeks 2024 GOP nomination — AP

Georgia GOP convention: Mike Pence out, Kari Lake in — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: