David Gregory apparently thinks that making cuts to Social Security, rather than raising the income cap, is some sort of "balanced approach" to keeping it solvent in the long term. Gregory also allowed McConnell to use language that makes it sound like the fund is running a negative balance already rather than having a $2.5 trillion surplus.
And of course McConnell only wants to go after Social Security if President Obama is willing to make it a bi-partisan affair. I've got to wonder if McConnell cares if he gets reelected if he really thinks making cuts to Social Security rather than raising the income cap on that regressive tax is a good idea.
GREGORY: Well, that's very interesting because I've also detected a great deal of caution on the part of Republicans who, who campaigned on the idea of spending cuts. And yet, when it comes to a program like Social Security--it was Speaker Boehner who told a group of us this week, "Well, look, we need to spend more time defining the problem before we get in the boat with the president here and say that we've got to make long-term changes." Is that your view?
McCONNELL: Well, look, we have, we have two problems here. It's our annual deficit, completely out of control. We're going to send the president a lot less--we're going to allow him to sign onto a lot less spending than he recommended the other night and that he's likely to send us in the budget. Then with, with regard to long-term unfunded liabilities, the entitlements, Speaker Boehner's correct, you cannot do that on a partisan basis. President Bush tried doing that in 2005 with regard to Social Security's problems. And by the way, the announcement this week that Social Security's gone into deficit, it will run a $45 billion deficit this year and for as far as the eye can see. Look, entitlement reform can only be done on a bipartisan basis. It's happened before. Reagan and Tip O'Neill fixed Social Security in '83. Reagan and the Democratic House did tax reform in '86.
GREGORY: So, but if the president were to say, "OK, Leader McConnell, if, if you're prepared to deal with some revenue increases, we can also deal with some benefit cuts. Let's take a balanced approach to Social Security," you could support that?
McCONNELL: Look, you know, you've tried this before. I, I'm not going to negotiate the deal with David Gregory. I'd be happy to negotiate it...
GREGORY: I keep hoping you'll change your mind.
McCONNELL: I'd be happy to try to negotiate the deal, and Speaker Boehner would too, with the president and the vice president and others.
GREGORY: But does the president have to go first before you'll take on entitlement reform?
McCONNELL: We have to go together. We have to go together. The American people are asking us to tackle these problems. I think the president needs to be more bold. We're prepared to meet--I've got a lot of new members, and Speaker Boehner does as well, who came here to tackle this big problem. We were waiting...
GREGORY: But you're saying, "Be bold on entitlements and Republicans will meet you halfway"?
McCONNELL: We're happy to sit down and talk about entitlement reform with the president. We know Social Security is in trouble. It was just announced by CBO this week. We know Medicare is on an unsustained path. They took a half a trillion dollars out of it to fund this healthcare program that they enacted. Look, we need to get serious about this.
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