McConnell: “Single biggest disappointment” of time in Congress is “failure to address the entitlement issue”
“The single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue.”
In an interview with Bloomberg News Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell called the skyrocketing federal deficit “disturbing.”
McConnell went so far as to say, “The single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue.”
Mitch McConnell: "The single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue. And it's a shame because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for all. I mean, my gosh, we can't sustain the Medicare we have."
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 16, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed rising federal deficits and debt on a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and said he sees little chance of a major deficit reduction deal while Republicans control Congress and the White House.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News when asked about the rising deficits and debt. “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.”
McConnell’s remarks came a day after the Treasury Department said the U.S. budget deficit grew to $779 billion in Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, the result of the GOP’s tax cuts, bipartisan spending increases and rising interest payments on the national debt. That’s a 77 percent increase from the $439 billion deficit in fiscal 2015, when McConnell became majority leader.
McConnell said it would be “very difficult to do entitlement reform, and we’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid,” with one party in charge of Congress and the White House.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government,” McConnell said.
Cutting spending and government bloat is always a favorite campaign talking point for Republicans, but one that never amounts to substantive action after the ballots have been cast.
McConnell said the last major deal to overhaul entitlements occurred in the Reagan administration, when a Social Security package including an increase in the retirement age passed under divided government.
McConnell said he was the GOP Senate whip in 2005 when Republican President George W. Bush attempted a Social Security overhaul and couldn’t find any Democratic supporters.
“Their view was, you want to fix Social Security, you’ve got the presidency, you’ve got the White House, you’ve got the Senate, you go right ahead,” McConnell said. The effort collapsed.
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