Republicans Are Once Again Very, Very Concerned About Deficits

Their solution: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

McConnell called the deficit "disturbing."Douglas Christian/ZUMA Wire

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who last year assured voters that sweeping tax cuts would not add to the country’s growing deficit, expressed concern today…about the federal budget deficit. In a Bloomberg News interview Tuesday morning, McConnell called the deficit “disturbing,” pointing to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as “70 percent” of the spending.  

“There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs,” said McConnell. “Hopefully at one point here, we will get serious about this. We haven’t been yet.”

The comments come after a Treasury report released Monday showed that the deficit ballooned by 17 percent in fiscal year 2018, increasing from $666 billion to $779 billion. The increase comes as no surprise to economists, who projected that last year’s massive tax cuts—which disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthy—would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

In recent months, Republicans have sought to gut social programs, such as pushing stricter work requirements for food stamp and Medicaid recipients, a proposal that a recent Brookings Institution report says could jeopardize impact more than 20 million low-income Americans. In Arkansas, the first state to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients, more than 8,000 beneficiaries have been kicked off the program since June. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky also tried to enact work requirements for Medicaid recipients after receiving the green light from the Trump administration but was blocked by a federal judge.

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