Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave a handful of interviews to media outlets this week in which he handed Democrats a political gift in the closing weeks of the midterm elections, saying he hopes to make cuts to social safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as launch another repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
McConnell’s comments fit perfectly into the message Democrats have been sending the entire election: Republicans want to cut taxes for the rich while slashing retirement and health care benefits for the middle class and poor working Americans. As such, Democrats have latched onto his comments as they make their final appeal to voters ahead of Election Day.
“I couldn’t have framed the election better than McConnell did this week,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted. “He says if GOP wins they will: A. Try again to repeal ACA and replace it w nothing. B. Cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for their corporate tax cut. C. provide no check on Trump. Got it, America?”
In an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday, McConnell said the increasing deficit is “disturbing,” and blamed it on Congress’ inability to cut spending on social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said of the deficit. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
This comes after Republicans, under McConnell’s control, exploded the deficit by passing a tax cut for corporations, as well as an individual tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the wealthiest Americans. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the GOP-passed tax bill expanded the deficit from $665 billion in fiscal year 2017 to $804 billion in fiscal year 2018. That’s a $139 billion increase.
“The deficit increase is ‘disturbing’ because of the trillion-dollar tax break Trump and Republicans gave to the rich and big corporations,” DNC spokesperson Daniel Wessel said in a statement Tuesday. “The Trump tax law was always a scam, and now Republicans are suggesting taking seniors and middle-class families to the cleaners by gutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to help pay for it.”
McConnell also said in an interview Wednesday with Reuters that the GOP will once again work to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2019 if they gain seats in the Senate.
The GOP’s failed attempt to repeal the ACA — former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement — was majorly unpopular with the electorate, and has been a central argument from Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.
Democrats in races across the country are pointing to McConnell’s comments as a reason voters should vote blue in November.
“Rick Scott has spent his career fighting against quality and affordable health care for Floridians, including those with pre-existing conditions,” Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Caroline Rowland said in a statement, referring to the GOP nominee in Florida’s competitive Senate contest. “Mitch McConnell’s comments today only confirm that health care is on the ballot this year in a big, big, way.”