On ABC’s This Week, Speaker John Boehner admitted that there is no immediate debt crisis, but in the next breath argued that the country should gut Medicare and Social Security anyway.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (VIDEO): We’ve already cut– $2.5– $2.7 trillion out of the deficit. If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already. And, so, we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Is he right that we don’t have an immediate crisis?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: We do not have an immediate debt crisis. But we all know that we have one looming. And we have– one looming– because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re gonna go bankrupt. Washington has responsibility– to our seniors and our near seniors– that we firm up these programs so that they’re there for the long term. Because if we don’t do it, not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now.
MARTHA RADDATZ: H– how long do we have to solve our problems?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Nobody knows where this is. It could be a year or two years, three years, four years. The– it’s not an immediate problem. But we can all–
MARTHA RADDATZ: So, you agree with the president on that?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The Amer– yes. But his point, as he went on to say in that interview, is that we don’t– we don’t really need to do anything at this point. And I would argue that we do need to do something.
The Speaker claimed that nobody knows how long we have to deal with the debt, but this was a total lie. Social Security will be solvent until 2033, and the Republican claim that Medicare is going bankrupt is an epic exaggeration. The Medicare hospital trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2024, but this is nothing new. As FactCheck.org pointed out, “In 1980, insolvency was expected in 1994. In 1990, the exhaustion date was 2003. But those dates have been pushed back mainly by repeated tax increases.”
If there is no immediate crisis, why are Republicans so hellbent on cutting Social Security and Medicare? The answer is ideology. Republicans have hated Social Security and Medicare from the day they each became law. The ginned up fake immediate debt crisis as championed most loudly by Paul Ryan is the latest cover story for the right wing war on the social safety net.
This isn’t about solvency and insolvency. Notice how Republicans always ignore the official numbers when talking about Social Security and Medicare. Republicans are ideologically committed to destroying the social safety net. Speaker Boehner’s comments today were an admission that cuts don’t need to be made, but Republicans want them just because.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association