Political Correction

Sen. McConnell Promises Super Committee Will "Focus On Entitlements"

August 03, 2011 12:18 pm ET - by Matt Finkelstein

Now that President Obama has signed the agreement with congressional Republicans to avoid default, all eyes are turning to the bipartisan "super committee" that will be tasked with devising the next round of deficit reduction before the end of the year. Last night on Fox News, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made it clear that his appointees to the committee will "focus on entitlements," and Medicare in particular. 

After stating that revenues will be "no more on the table" than they were in the recent negotiations, McConnell argued that the super committee should target the safety net because "Medicare's got about five years before it goes broke, Social Security a little longer." The Affordable Care Act, he added, left Medicare in "deeper trouble" than it was before.

MCCONNELL: The joint committee is also going to focus on entitlements. The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare system appointed by the president himself have said Medicare's got about five years before it goes broke, Social Security a little longer. We need to be looking at entitlement reform if it's even going to be there for the next generation. And so that's a big part of what the joint committee will be looking at, as well. [...]

Medicare is even in deeper trouble as a result of "Obama care" than it was before. It was already in trouble. It got turned into a piggy bank to finance half of the trillion dollars of new spending in "Obama care." We think that was a mistake. It only exacerbated the Medicare problem and made it even more urgent that we deal with trying to save Medicare.

McConnell should double check his math. The Medicare trust fund was on pace to run dry in 2016, but that changed with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which will allow the fund to last until 2024, according to the program's lead actuary. Contrary to McConnell's claim that the health care law "exacerbated" the problem, it actually extended the program's solvency for eight years. McConnell also vastly overstates the near-term danger to Social Security, which can pay out full benefits until 2037, as well as the scope of the long-term challenge.  

Based on McConnell's performance, there's no reason to think Republicans will be any more reasonable in the next round of talks. Instead, expect Republican negotiators to rely on the same old falsehoods and fear-mongering to insist on slashing the safety net in order to "save" it. 

Read our full fact check of McConnell's talking points HERE

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