The Corner

U.S.

McConnell: Republicans Can’t Fix Entitlements

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told Bloomberg News that rising spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are driving increases in the national debt — and that solving the problem “may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government.”

Nancy Pelosi responded, “Like clockwork, Republicans in Congress are setting in motion their plan to destroy the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that seniors and families rely on.”

Of course, McConnell did not suggest that Republicans had any “plan” to make significant changes to those programs; he suggested that he thought any such effort was doomed for failure without Democratic support.

Some journalists are helping push the Democrats’ rewriting of McConnell’s words along. In Newsweek, Nicole Goodkind wrote:

Democrats, meanwhile, jumped on McConnell’s admission as proof that Republicans had long planned to cut entitlement spending to fund the tax cuts that largely benefit corporations and wealthy Americans. “The truth comes out! This was their deceptive plan all along,” said Representative Lois Frankel of Florida.

What admission? And what plan?

Goodkind’s readers never find out what McConnell said about the necessity of bipartisan action. They do, however, get to hear another Democrat decrying “Mitch McConnell’s plan to cut Medicare and Social Security.” (This is not the first time Goodkind has applied this kind of spin.)

Even policy experts are getting in on the act. Here’s how Teresa Ghilarducci rewrote the news: “Today Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republican leaders will focus on cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” (Headline: “Senate Republicans Set Sights On Cutting Social Security.”)

You can certainly make the case that Republicans should be seeking to rein in the growth of those programs; I’ve made that case myself. But there’s no sign that they have any plans to take up this challenge after the elections.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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