Friday, July 8, 2011

AARP Opposes Cuts to Medicare & Social Security, Democrats Surprised - Progressives Fight Back, Medicare Still Popular in Polls

Conservative Republicans have had major troubles with their budget-debt proposals.  Now, President Obama also is facing serious problems for some of the same reasons.  Yesterday, we warned that Medicare and Social Security were on the table.  Many of you did not like it.

AARP Will Fight Any Proposed Cuts

AARP is not happy that Social Security and Medicare are on the agenda for debt ceiling talks.  "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."

Here's the AARP statement:  AARP to the President and Congressional Leaders: Don’t Cut Social Security to Reduce the Deficit.  "Social Security Did Not Contribute to the Deficit and Should Not Be Cut As Part of Any Budget Deal."

Years ago, the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds became part of the budget gimmicks designed to mask the Country's financial problems.  Now, they are being blamed as a means of pursuing an extreme ideological agenda by the Conservatives.

Democrats Taken by Surprise

Apparently, House Democrats were not informed of the possibilities of Medicare and Social Security concessions by the White House and were stunned by the White House debt proposal.  "After an at-times-contentious meeting about how open Dems should be to significant entitlement cuts, leaders departed to the White House to read Obama the riot act."  "Obama addressed the media after the meeting and announced that staff and members will reconvene at the White House Sunday, after working through the weekend, hopefully with a framework in hand for a bill to reduce deficits and raise the national borrowing limit."

Later, "The White House [was] playing down a report that the President is willing to consider cuts to Social Security as part of a deal to raise the debt-ceiling and reduce the nation's long-term deficits" saying there has been no change in President Obama’s position on Social Security.  Perhaps he needs to be more clear.

"The political tsunami of the week is the news that President Obama is offering Republicans changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for an agreement to raise new tax revenue and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.  While the White House has said it wants 'to work with both parties to do so in a balanced way that preserves the promise of [Social Security] and doesn’t slash benefits,' some Democrats are questioning why the program is part of the debt ceiling negotiations at all."  Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) says it isn’t adding to the deficit, it ‘loans us money’.

"After a contentious White House meeting with President Obama and other Congressional leaders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) returned to the Capitol and drew an important red line: Members of her caucus won't vote for a grand bargain to raise the debt limit and reduce future deficits if the final deal includes cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits -- and that means it probably won't pass."

Progressives Say Leave Medicare Alone

"The Progressive Caucus, in a letter being sent to President Obama today, says any budget deal he agrees to that contains cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid won't get their votes.  Given that any deal that President Obama agrees to is unlikely to win over enough Republicans to pass the House of Representatives unless it represents absolute capitulation to the most radical of Republican demands, push-back on Obama's left side from the Progressive Caucus at this stage of the game could prove significant."

Strong stands on Medicare and Social Security by Progressives and Democrats could be helpful to President Obama in combating the unreasonable demands of Conservative Republicans to make enormous cuts.  It's the support he and the programs need right now.  The American People, too, should be telling their senators and representatives how they feel ... and not rely on polls to speak for them.

Medicare Poll: Keep Entitlement, Fix Problem

According to a new poll, more than half of Americans say it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are rather than to reduce the deficit.  The Public Wants Changes in Entitlements, Not Changes in Benefits.  "As policymakers at the state and national level struggle with rising entitlement costs, overwhelming numbers of Americans agree that, over the years, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have been good for the country.  But these cherished programs receive negative marks for current performance, and their finances are widely viewed as troubled."

"The public’s desire for fundamental change does not mean it supports reductions in the benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.  Relatively few are willing to see benefit cuts as part of the solution, regardless of whether the problem being addressed is the federal budget deficit, state budget shortfalls or the financial viability of the entitlement programs."  "The public also opposes making Medicare recipients more responsible for their health care costs and allowing states to limit Medicaid eligibility."


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