Progressives on Tuesday warned that U.S. voters should take House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans at their word when they threaten to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare despite the cost-of-living crisis that already has Americans struggling to afford healthcare and other essentials.\r\n\r\nIn an interview with Punchbowl News Tuesday, the California Republican outlined plans to use the expected fight over the raising of the debt ceiling next year as leverage to pass several austerity policies and block additional aid for Ukraine, as well as blocking pandemic-related spending.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022If people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time], just like anything else, there comes a point in time where, okay, we\u0026#039;ll provide you more money, but you got to change your current behavior,\u0022 McCarthy told the outlet. \u0022And we should seriously sit together and [figure out] where can we eliminate some waste?\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The Republican \u0026#039;solution\u0026#039; to inflation is to hold the full faith and credit of the U.S. government hostage unless they are able to enact huge cuts to Social Security and Medicare.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe \u0022behavior\u0022 and supposed \u0022waste\u0022 McCarthy has in mind likely includes the New Deal-era Social Security program, which helps keep 22.1 million Americans out of poverty, and Medicare. Working Americans\u0026#039; taxes keep both programs running and allow millions to benefit from them, but Republicans including Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) have said this year that they should not be considered mandatory programs and should instead be brought up for a vote every five years or even annually.\r\n\r\nMcCarthy told Punchbowl that he wouldn\u0026#039;t \u0022predetermine\u0022 the \u0022structural changes\u0022 his party plans to make to Medicare and Social Security, but he did suggest the Republicans will exploit the raising of the debt limit, which is expected by the second half of 2023, to force changes.\r\n\r\nThe debt limit is the amount of money the federal government is permitted to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Medicare, Social Security, tax refunds, and other payments. Failing to raise the debt ceiling and defaulting on those obligations could cause a global financial crisis.\r\n\r\nSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) accused the Republicans of planning to \u0022hold the full faith and credit of the U.S. government hostage unless they are able to enact huge cuts\u0022 to the programs.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSocial Security Works, which advocates for the strengthening and expansion of the Social Security program, urged voters to make their decisions with McCarthy\u0026#039;s words in mind.\r\n\r\n\u0022Kevin McCarthy says he will cut Social Security and Medicare if he becomes Speaker,\u0022 the group said. \u0022Believe him!\u0022\r\n\r\nThe Republican leader\u0026#039;s comments represent just the latest time the party has publicized \u0022their #1 priority if they gain control of Congress: Cut, privatize, and ultimately destroy the American people\u0026#039;s earned Social Security and Medicare benefits,\u0022 said Alex Lawson, executive director of the group.\r\n\r\n\u0022The future of Social Security and Medicare is on the ballot this November. Democrats are united in support of protecting and expanding benefits,\u0022 he added. \u0022Republicans, led by Kevin McCarthy, are united in a plot to reach into our pockets and steal our money.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe GOP has long repeated false claims that Social Security and Medicare are unaffordable for the U.S. As progressives including Sanders have said in recent months, based on the latest report from the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, the program is fully funded until 2035 and would be able to pay fro 90% of benefits for the next 25 years, even without Congress passing legislation that Democrats have proposed to expand it.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nWith the New York Times\u0026#039; latest polling showing that Republicans have gained a significant advantage in the upcoming midterm elections, Jim Roberts of The 74 warned, \u0022to put it bluntly, the future of Medicare and Social Security hangs in the balance this November.\u0022\r\n\r\nJournalist Judd Legum noted Tuesday that while Republicans have been clear with the political press about their intentions, they aren\u0026#039;t running ads promising Social Security and Medicare cuts.\r\n\r\nThat is likely because \u0022recent polling shows that 77% of Americans, including 76% of Republicans, support increasing Social Security benefits,\u0022 he said.\r\n\r\nAs Common Dreams reported Monday, progressive strategists are calling on the party to spend the final three weeks before the election focusing intently on Republicans\u0026#039; plans to cut programs millions of Americans count on—Democrats\u0026#039; proposals to strengthen those programs, hold corporate price-gougers accountable, and bring relief to working families.\r\n\r\nMatthew Gertz of Media Matters for America also called on the corporate media to make Republicans\u0026#039; proposals abundantly clear to readers.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022The media should inform voters about the stakes of this election, not carry water for Republicans by hiding their plans!\u0022 tweeted Social Security Works.