Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo joined all 10 of his Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee in telling Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that next month’s debt limit extension should be used as a lever to tackle reform of Social Security and Medicare.
“For decades, Congress and various administrations have used the debt limit as an opportunity to confront budget, fiscal and other matters. This debt limit increase should be viewed similarly – as an opportunity to bring lasting reforms and debt reduction to our nation,” wrote the 11 senators Wednesday.
The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the debt limit. Lew says the government will be unable to borrow after Oct. 17 if Congress and President Obama don’t reach an agreement on raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit.
Crapo was a member of President Obama’s deficit commission, which recommended a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to erode the federal debt. But Crapo and his 10 committee colleagues said any talk of tax increases must include entitlement reform. “We are not willing to discuss any revenue increases until the Administration puts real, structural fixes to these massive government programs on the table for consideration.”
In a news release Thursday afternoon, Crapo attached the letter and added his own statement: “There is no time like the present and the debt limit presents an ideal opportunity to enact structural entitlement reforms to make the programs sustainable for years to come. At a minimum, a down payment of initial entitlement reforms must be enacted in order to begin the process of bringing sustainable solvency to these programs.”
The 11 signatories to the letter are: Crapo, Ranking Member Orrin Hatch of Utah, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, John Thune of South Dakota, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.