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Mitch McConnell: Debt Ceiling Deal May Be Short-Term Without Entitlement Cuts

Mitch Mcconnell Debt Ceiling Deal

AP/The Huffington Post   First Posted: 06/19/11 02:49 PM ET Updated: 08/19/11 06:12 AM ET

The Senate's top Republican is suggesting a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing limit unless there's deal soon that includes changes to big entitlement programs.

Economists and Obama administration officials are warning of a calamity if the government defaults on its obligations. The default deadline is Aug. 2.

Vice President Joe Biden is leading bipartisan talks on the debt limit and cuts in federal spending.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says that if a deal doesn't include significant entitlement program changes, then legislation raising the borrowing limit for just a few months is likely.

He says lawmakers would return to what he calls "the same discussion" this fall.

McConnell appeared Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

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McConnell has long called for entitlement reform to be part of any deal on the debt limit. "I can assure you that to get my vote to raise the debt ceiling, for whatever that is worth… Medicare will be a part of it,” he said on “Meet the Press” last month.

Elsewhere on the Sunday shows, other lawmakers continued to discuss the debt ceiling talks and what it will take to reach a deal.

“There is no way on God's green earth you're going to balance the budget until you put entitlements on the table,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.”

“We need to means test benefits. Everybody on this program could in the future give up some of their benefits for Social Security to keep it solvent. And you've got to do the same thing on Medicare: Slowly but surely adjust the age, and upper income Americans should pay more when it comes to Medicare.”

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) appeared with Graham on “Meet the Press” and agreed with the South Carolina Republican that Medicare would have to be part of the debt ceiling discussions. “I certainly wouldn't go as far as the House Republican budget,” he told host David Gregory. “But there are ways to make health savings in Medicare.”

But Durbin did rule out raising the retirement age or means testing benefits, as Graham had proposed.


DAVID GREGORY: Could you see supporting raising the retirement age or means testing benefits?

SEN. DURBIN: No. Let me tell you--

DAVID GREGORY: Well, then where are the meaningful savings -- you say you don't want to break the promise. The reality is it's not sustainable for the future for the American people. Is that not true?

SEN. DURBIN: David, let me tell you: Saying to people, "Wait two more years for Medicare," is not a good idea. Think about how vulnerable people are at that age. Maybe they're retired, at this point have no health insurance; Medicare is their lifeline to basic health protection. And I think the House Republican budget went too far. We don't want to go that far.


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