McConnell: WH Must Agree to 'Structural Changes' in Entitlements
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday said the White House must agree to make structural changes to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare now if Republicans decide to include more tax revenue in any budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
McConnell told the Wall Street Journal the White House had to agree to structural changes—like including means-testing in Medicare, raising the eligibility age for Medicare, or slowing cost-of-living increases in Social Security payments—in exchange for more tax revenue.
"The nexus for us is: revenue equals genuine entitlement eligibility changes," McConnell said. "Not another study. Not 'Let's do it 11 months from now.' Now."
McConnell reiterated more tax revenue would not come from rate hikes, and Democrats would have to make structural changes now instead of punting the issue to the next fiscal year, as Democrats have always done.
"Those are the kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue," Mr. McConnell said.
According to the Journal, Democrats are more open to "means testing" in Medicare than they are to increasing the eligibility age for Medicare or reforming Social Security.
Republicans resoundingly rejected the White House's initial offer on Thursday. The White House's plan included giving President Barack Obama unprecedented powers to raise the debt ceiling without Congress's approval, $1.6 trillion in new taxes, and at least $50 billion a year in new, multi-year stimulus programs.
McConnell said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did not even offer Republican leaders a written proposal and instead made a verbal presentation. He admitted he did laugh in Geithner's face as he was presenting the plan and said it must have been "demeaning" for Geithner to have to deliver the proposal.
"He noticed that I laughed," McConnell said. "That pretty well summed up my view of what he was saying."
McConnell said the White House proposal would not have even passed Nancy Pelosi's Democratic Congress, let alone the current one.