House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Sunday said that cuts to Medicare and Social Security were "off the table" ahead of upcoming talks with President Joe Biden over the debt ceiling.
During an appearance on the CBS program "Face the Nation," the California Republican said that while the GOP wanted spending cuts as part of a deal to raise the debt limit, they did not want to target those two specific programs.
"Let's take those off the table" he said. "If you read our Commitment to America, all we talk about is strengthening Medicare and Social Security. So — and I know the president says he doesn't want to look at it, but we've got to make sure we strengthen those."
When host Margaret Brennan asked McCarthy if "strengthen" meant that he wanted to raise the retirement age — which is generally between 66 and 67 — he disputed that notion.
"No, no, no. What I'm talking about — Social Security, Medicare, you keep that to the side," he reaffirmed.
McCarthy during the interview said that he wanted to come to an agreement with Democratic leaders on a budget, and said that GOP leaders would be looking at everything in assessing spending levels — including defense-related programs.
"I want to make sure we're protected in our defense spending, but I want to make sure it's effective and efficient," the speaker said. "I want to look at every single dollar we are spending, no matter where it is being spent. I want to eliminate waste wherever it is."
The White House has repeatedly said that it would not negotiate spending cuts as it relates to the debt ceiling, but McCarthy appeared optimistic regarding a breakthrough.
"Now, I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the President is going to be willing to make an agreement together," he said.
The United States earlier this month hit its debt limit of roughly $31.4 trillion, but the Treasury Department is taking steps to fund the government's financial obligations through June.