The White House slammed a proposal by House Republican committee and caucus chairs to set up a panel examining Social Security and Medicare solvency as part of debt-limit negotiations, likely shutting the door on the approach.

Key House Republicans – as well as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., – previously said debt-limit negotiations could include an agreement to establish a commission to negotiate later changes to Social Security and Medicare, to extend their solvency. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has broadly repeated Social Security and Medicare were “off the table” in debt-limit talks, though some leadership-aligned House Republicans said that didn’t preclude the possibility of an entitlements commission to negotiate changes.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates criticized that approach in a statement to Bloomberg Government, appearing to rule out the possibility of an entitlements commission as part of a debt-limit deal.

“The American people want more jobs and lower costs, not a death panel for Medicare and Social Security,” Bates said. “With the president poised to announce new plans to keep making our economy work from the bottom up and the middle out – not the top down – House Republicans are dead-set on the opposite.”

Bates described some Republicans’ reluctance to abandon a potential commission as the “latest in a long line of ultimatums about how they’ll act to kill jobs, businesses, and retirement accounts if they can’t cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.” Bates also criticized the Republican push to cut enforcement funds appropriated last year for the Internal Revenue Service.

“Meanwhile, they’re voting to worsen the deficit with tax welfare for the rich and big corporations,” Bates said. “Think about that: they’re targeting the Medicare and Social Security benefits that middle-class families pay in to earn their whole lives, then turning around and giving tax handouts to big corporations.”


Two bills to create panels on entitlements previously garnered bipartisan support in years past, though attaching either measure to debt-limit negotiations could change the political calculus.

House Budget Chair Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, had pitched the TRUST Act as part of debt-limit negotiations – a bill that would create committees to produce legislation to try to extend the solvency of trust funds supporting Social Security and Medicare. Manchin and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had also said the measure could be part of a deal to raise or suspend the debt limit.

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., chair of the Republican Study Committee, previously said he didn’t think a commission to negotiate measures on entitlement solvency had been ruled out, despite broad statements that Republicans didn’t plan to cut benefits for anyone near retirement age.

House Rules Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., had similarly pitched colleagues on the Bipartisan Social Security Commission Act as part of debt-limit talks. The bill would create a panel to negotiate possible changes to extend the solvency of Social Security. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Cole discussed the issue with the House Republican Conference last week, though Jordan wasn’t sure if GOP leadership would include it in negotiations with the White House.

According to the program’s board of trustees, Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund is projected to be depleted after 2034. Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to run out of funds in 2028.

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