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Big Medicare cuts triggered by the GOP tax plan won't happen, says House majority leader

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy says dire warnings of big Medicare cuts as a result of the GOP tax plan are scare tactics by Democrats.
  • The concern about reductions in Medicare and other federal programs stems from a Senate rule designed to prevent increases in the budget deficit.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday that dire warnings of big Medicare cuts as a result of the GOP tax plan are scares tactic by Democrats.

The concern about reductions in Medicare and other federal programs stems from a Senate rule designed to prevent increases in the budget deficit.

The Republican tax package is expected to raise the deficit.

The Senate's so-called pay-go rule, as described in a congressional research report, requires any bill that's projected to increase spending or cut revenues to also include equal spending cuts, revenue increases or a combination of the two.

McCarthy said lawmakers shortly after the new year will prevent any Medicare cuts from going into effect. "That is more of a fear of what the Democrats are trying to spread out," the California Republican told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Remember what [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi] said: This is 'Armageddon,' this is 'the end of time.'"

Democrats put "a lot of different Pinocchios out there," McCarthy continued. Republicans have wanted to fix Medicare "for quite some time," he added.

McCarthy also suggested that some Democratic lawmakers wanted to vote for the tax plan but didn't because it was a Republican-led bill. "I had even one the night before with me say, 'I'm getting whipped to vote no,'" he claimed.

The Senate passed the sweeping GOP tax bill early Wednesday, sending the legislation back to the House for another vote later in the day.

The reason the House has to vote again even though it passed the bill on Tuesday has to do with a procedural snag.

McCarthy joked about the need for a second vote on Wednesday morning, saying, "We love this bill so much, we want to vote on it twice."

McCarthy also spoke about reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan will retire in 2018, which Ryan has denied.

"I'm the closest to Paul Ryan as you can get," McCarthy said, "He is not leaving."

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