Jan Schakowsky Explains To National Review's Cain That Deficit Fetish Is A Beltway Affliction

I'm glad we've had a few liberals to stand up for the working class on that deficit commission like Jan Schakowsky since it looks like their recommendations are going nowhere for now. During her interview on CNN's Parker/Spitzer, Schakowsky explains
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I'm glad we've had a few liberals to stand up for the working class on that deficit commission like Jan Schakowsky since it looks like their recommendations are going nowhere for now. During her interview on CNN's Parker/Spitzer, Schakowsky explains to Parker fill-in Will Cain that out in the real world, there is not this obsession with deficit reduction or entitlement cuts that we're seeing out of our beltway Villagers chattering class. She also does a good job of explaining that Social Security does not reduce the deficit, despite being called unserious by Cain.

The bad news is, this is just a preview of what's yet to come. Here's more on that from Chris Bowers -- What happens next on the Deficit Commission.

Full transcript via CNN.

SPITZER: Let me ask you very simply, is this commission becoming a train wreck? I mean, it just seems hard to imagine, there are going to be 14 votes for any plan or any even piece of this plan as it's been rolled out it's been met with derision and opposition. What do you think? Fourteen votes in the cards for this plan?

SCHAKOWSKY: I don't see 14 votes for this plan, but I do think that if we would trim back our ambitions and make more of a laundry list of things that we could all agree on, and I think there would be some that point us at least in the right direction, that we could make a powerful statement, nonetheless. It seems, however, that Bowles- Simpson have done sort of Bowles-Simpson 2.0 that they're going to introduce -- we may even get a copy of it tonight that will be discussed tomorrow and then voted on Friday. If it still has a lot of the things that hurt the middle class, I'm an old-fashion Democrat and think we ought to stand up for middle class people, that cut social security benefits, that add to the cost of Medicare for the elderly that put very tough caps on discretionary spending which is mostly programs that help ordinary people, then I don't see how I can vote for this plan. And also, it doesn't have any kind of investment in the economy, helping to create jobs, which really does promote deficit reduction through growth.

CAIN: Hi, Congresswoman, Will Cain here. You said the votes aren't there for the Erskine Bowles plan. Some, like Eliot had said, that the committee is turning into a train wreck. I'm curious as to why. Now you've put your own plan forth. One that concentrates a lot of cuts on defense spending, raises taxes and leaves entitlements virtually untouched. I'm curious, if your plan were adopted, you'd be pretty happy, I assume, right?

SCHAKOWSKY: I would be. But I want to say something about entitlements. I don't leave them untouched. I come with a plan on how to make Social Security solvent. It's just that I take it out of different pockets. You know, we talk about shared sacrifice. But look, the sacrifice has not been shared over the last 20 years where ordinary Americans have seen their income either stagnant or actually fall. Whereas almost all of the wealth has gone to the top earners in the country who right now, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the disparity is greater than ever.

CAIN: And I'm trying to figure out why you even feel the need to address Social Security. In fact in the past you've said, "Social security has nothing to do with the deficit. Addressing Social Security as part of the deficit question is like attacking Iraq for retaliation of 9/11."

SCHAKOWSKY: That's right.

CAIN: Simply have no relationship. Congresswoman, you found an island with that point of view.

SCHAKOWSKY: No, no, no.

CAIN: Former and current leaders of the CBO, writers from liberal magazines like "The Nation" don't support that point of view. In fact, your fellow congressman, Kent Conrad, has said that he believes Social Security is integral to any kind of deficit reform.

SCHAKOWSKY: No, no, no. You're confusing the deficit with the long-term debt. Eventually in 2037, Social Security would have an impact on the debt. But right now, even Erskine Bowles agrees that for the deficit and for our first charge which is to reach budget balance, primary budget balance by 2015, Social Security has nothing to do with it. We are in agreement on that. And long-term solvency for Social Security is an issue. It is not being considered as debt reduction, even under Simpson-Bowles. It is how do we achieve solvency by 75 years. So there's agreement across the board left and right on my definitions, and so I wanted to clarify that for you.

CAIN: Congresswoman, I asked you at the top of the interview if you'd be happy if your proposal, if your plan passed.

SCHAKOWSKY: Yes.

CAIN: And you said yes. But I can't imagine that you think that's a likelihood, that that could possibly happen. So when I see that you don't address Social Security as part of a deficit reform and you have a plan that you're putting out that doesn't have any possibility of being passed, the message to me is that the deficit commission panel is unserious, that there is no prospect for coming to a reasonable compromise.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, you know, we talk about political viability. You know, actually, out in the real world, in the country, there is not a lot of support for cutting Social Security. In fact, there's been all kinds of polls that say people would actually rather pay more than to have a cut in Social Security. So I think we have to redefine political viability by talking to actual people out there. Medicare beneficiaries, they pay out of pocket right now 30 percent of their income. That's about the same amount as they paid when Medicare was first initiated in 1965. Should old people be paying more out of pocket than they do right now, even though dental care, eye care is not even covered by Medicare right now? So, you know, I think that we're getting mixed up about who is, you know, maybe inside the beltway. And do you really think that it's politically viable to say we will eliminate altogether the mortgage interest deduction? That's part of the Simpson-Bowles plan. Do you think that that's realistic?

SPITZER: Look, Congresswoman, this is going to be a continuing dialogue. Obviously, I think we're in the early stages and we're going to watch the report when it comes out tomorrow. Hopefully we'll have a chance to talk to you in the coming weeks and months as obviously this is going to be a contentious and important area for us to have a conversation about. So thank you for joining us and we look forward to you joining us in the future.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you. Thank you.

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