WASHINGTON (AP) — With the GOP tax plan contributing to rising federal deficits, Democrats are warning that Republicans will seek cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to balance budgets if they keep control of Congress in the November election.
It’s a familiar message for Democrats, who have for years campaigned on the idea that Republicans want to gut the “entitlement” programs. Republicans say they want to put those benefit programs on better financial footing and tame the deficit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fueled the campaign attack when he said this week that entitlement spending, not the Republican tax plan, is responsible for the increasing deficits that are now on track to top $1 trillion — a level unseen since the aftermath of the Great Recession.
“This is the exact Republican playbook we’ve seen time after time,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who’s in line to become Budget Committee chairman if Democrats win control of the House. He spoke on a Democratic conference call Wednesday with reporters.
Republicans promised their $1.5 trillion tax law — which was supposed to spur economic growth by cutting individual and corporate rates — would pay for itself. But with federal revenues lagging and deficits climbing, McConnell said the problem is the entitlement spending that accounts for most of the federal government outlays.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said in a Tuesday interview with Bloomberg News. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
Democrats seized on McConnell’s comments as a sign Republicans will put entitlements on the chopping block.