Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is demanding major concessions from the White House in exchange for his vote to raise the debt ceiling. CNN reports that McConnell is floating a number of ideas that he wants implemented to secure his vote to raise the debt limit.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell wants to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare and he is also seeking to reduce cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients. In addition, the Kentucky Senator wants to add policy riders to the budget that will restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to uphold clean water standards.
While the Obama White House has sought, but failed, to achieve a “grand bargain” involving what is euphemistically called “entitlement reform” in the past, the president seems to be resistant to caving into McConnell’s demands this time around.
White House spokesperson, Jennifer Friedman made it clear the president isn’t interested in conceding to McConnell. Friedman stated:
Proposals such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare and changing the way Social Security retirement benefits are indexed to inflation are non-starters for the administration and Democrats in Congress.
Although McConnell hopes to drive a hard bargain, the White House and Congressional Democrats are unlikely to budge. Democrats know that Republicans are likely to shoulder most of the blame if their is another government shutdown. Given the widespread popularity of Medicare and Social Security, there is little incentive for Democrats to cave in to McConnell’s list of demands.
The Republicans continue to threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way, but their incessant tantrums have become so repetitive that they are no longer taken seriously. Rather than bullying the White House into putting Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table, all McConnell is doing is strengthening the Democrats’ resolve to resist such cuts as the price for keeping the government running. They know that Social Security and Medicare cuts are a bad idea. If McConnell wants to threaten to shut the government down, the Obama administration is willing to let the Kentucky Senator make a fool of himself trying.