Many progressives and Democratic leaders are sounding off against the Obama administration for the idea that cuts in benefits to our safety-net programs are acceptable in the debt ceiling debate: The top House Democrat says she and fellow
July 7, 2011

Many progressives and Democratic leaders are sounding off against the Obama administration for the idea that cuts in benefits to our safety-net programs are acceptable in the debt ceiling debate:

The top House Democrat says she and fellow Democratic lawmakers will oppose including cuts in Social Security or Medicare benefits in any package aimed at reducing huge federal deficits.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the remark to reporters Thursday after returning to the Capitol from President Barack Obama's budget talks with congressional leaders. The leaders are looking for a compromise package that would extend the government's borrowing limit while also slicing trillions off future budget deficits.

Signals have emerged that the White House would consider culling savings from Social Security and Medicare. But Pelosi, a California Democrat, says Democrats believe those two programs should not be used to pay for tax breaks for the rich.

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Chuck Schumer and Van Holland were on Andrea Mitchell today and they say that they also are against benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but pushed the idea that they could find 'savings' in Medicare to help with the debt ceiling negotiations. "The devil is in the details," said Schumer. Right. Like most American voters will be able to understand that cutting waste out of Medicare by using "savings" they can find via drug prices will resonate. Typical Liberal claptrap. Schumer also said that there needs to be a balance between spending cuts and raising revenues from closing tax loopholes. That got Mitchell a bit unnerved and she nervously stated:

Mitchell: You're not saying it has to be one for one, cause there had been a previous position in previous talks where three to one would be...

Schumer: No, we're not saying...there has to be balance. We're not going to take a hundred dollars of cuts for one dollar in revenues, but we're not specifying exactly what that balance should be. However, it's gotta be some decent form of balance.

Yes, how awful would that prospect hold for the Villagers? A real negotiation with real revenues being raised against massive spending cuts during a time of high unemployment. Schumer wouldn't describe what the word balance means to her. We've heard as much as a 5-1 ratio for cuts over tax increases and that's pretty shocking to me as it is

Rep. Ellison Questions Putting Social Security Into Debt Ceiling Deal: It Isn’t Adding To Deficit, It ‘Loans Us Money’

CQ via email: Progressives Vow to Oppose Any Debt Deal That Cuts Entitlements

By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are vowing to oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid listed as part of any deficit reduction package combined with a proposal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit.

Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, a co-chairman of the liberal faction, said he was one of about 15 members of the group signing a letter to President Obama that makes the case that “job creation is the most important issue facing the country — not deficit reduction.”

The Hill: Obama move on Social Security puts him at odds with Dem leaders Reid, Pelosi

Is it surprising that Paul Krugman would write: The Obama-Keynes Mystery

I’m not alone in marveling at the extent to which Obama has thrown his rhetorical weight behind anti-Keynesian economics; Ryan Avent is equally amazed, as are many others. And now he’s endorsing the structural unemployment story too.

To those defending Obama on the grounds that he’s saying what he has to politically, I have two answers. First, words matter — as people who rallied around Obama in the first place because of his eloquence should know. Yes, he has to make compromises on policy grounds — but that doesn’t mean he has to adopt the right’s rhetoric and arguments. The effect of his intellectual capitulation is that we now have only one side in the national argument.

Second, since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

The question then is why. As I’ve tried to show many times, the facts overwhelmingly refute the anti-Keynes talking points. Neither the invisible bond vigilantes nor the confidence fairy have made an appearance. So why is Obama talking up those talking points?

TPM reports: House Dems Stunned By White House Debt Proposal, Read Obama The Riot Act

Multiple senior House Democratic aides tell TPM that caucus members were caught off guard by news stories about President Obama's push for deeper deficit and spending reductions -- and particularly about the White House's willingness to cut Social Security as part of a grand bargain to raise the debt limit.

AARP had earlier signaled they might be open to adjustments to Social Security, but now they've changed their tune and are firmly opposing the move.

The top advocacy group for seniors, AARP, is sounding the alarm over reports that cuts to Social Security and Medicare may be included in a deficit deal.

CEO Barry Rand issued a lengthy statement on Thursday demanding that the White House and Republican leaders take the issue off the table and address any changes to the programs in separate negotiations.

"AARP is strongly opposed to any deficit reduction proposal that makes harmful cuts to vital Social Security and Medicare benefits," Rand said.


"AARP will fight any cuts that are proposed to this important program, including proposals to reduce the cost of living adjustment for beneficiaries (COLA)--such as the proposed chained CPI--which AARP also believes should not be considered as part of the debt ceiling or deficit reduction negotiations," he said.

Digby reminds us what FDR's legacy is: The Grand Bargain Arrives

Under pressure from the right, he (FDR) pulled back a lot of New Deal programs the next year and it caused unemployment to go back up, so rhetoric isn't everything. But he had no illusions about how political power is won and used for the greater good and he didn't give the Republicans tools to gain political power by pretending they were anything but the opponents they were. His lasting legacy, however pragmatically it was envisioned and implemented, was that people trusted the Democrats for generations and the New Deal programs were woven into the fabric of America. Liberalism, not conservatism, was the default ideology because Roosevelt made his arguments in stark and clear ideological terms.

Some are writing that this is all a master plan that the administration is hatching to trap Conservatives and win Obama all the Independents for the upcoming election because he's being the adult, or something like that. Some are just too hopelessly optimistic. And check out Ezra's graph on spending cuts and tax increases under various presidents and see how lopsided this administration proposed plan stacks up against the rest.

taxes and spending past deals.jpg
deficit-reduction deals passed by Presidents

It’s safe to say at this point that the White House is starting to get the credit it wants for working hard to find a compromise even as Republicans work hard to resist one. But that’s not a triumph of messaging. It is, if anything, an understatement based on the White House’s willingness to give congressional Republicans a much more lopsided deal than Reagan, Bush or Clinton presided over. Republicans might be fools for passing on it, but if and when they finally say “yes,” a lot of Democrats are going to be wondering whether the Democrats were suckers for offering it.

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