Monday, July 11, 2011

Strange Support for President Obama, Pelosi and Others Against Social Security Cuts

As last week wound up, a more significant uproar began to develop over possible cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  The implications for the aged and disabled are significant.  Their independence, dignity, access to services, and self reliance are threatened more now than ever before, as is the financial stability of the whole Country.

Unwelcome Support for the President

"Reports that President Obama could discuss with Republicans the idea of cuts to Social Security and Medicare is picking up praise from a source that doesn't usually have anything good to say about the President: Rep. Allen West (R-FL).  In fact, this is coming from a man whose military career ended after a torture-related incident, who has called Obama a 'low-level socialist agitator', and who has said that Medicare will destroy America: 'I gotta tell you something: if you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye.'"

Rather extreme; wouldn't you agree? "Kiss the USA goodbye?"  Unfortunately, this has become the caliber of debate from the extreme right wing of the Republican party.  Most thinking people would agree that Medicare's financial issues need to be addressed.  Polls say that few agree with the Conservative Republican approach of repealing Medicare.

Pelosi & Colleagues Won't Support Cuts to Social Security

Democrats and progressives are becoming even more vocal about their support for Medicare and Social Security.

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made one thing clear, publicly and behind the scenes, in high-stakes debt discussions: Her caucus won't support Social Security benefit cuts, and Republicans better listen closely, because they need Democratic votes to increase the borrowing limit.  But she may be powerless to stop one increasingly discussed plan to lower Social Security's cost of living adjustment, which would escalate cuts to the program over time. "  "'There's concern in my caucus about what would happen with CPI, some think that it's a benefit cut, others do not,' she admitted.  'The dirty rotten devil's in the dirty rotten details.'"

"The Washington Post set off a political firestorm earlier this week when it reported that President Obama will reportedly be seeking changes to Social Security as part of a wider debt ceiling deal with Congress.  This morning, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hosted a press call with reporters about their opposition to including Social Security and Medicare in debt ceiling negotiations."  According to Sanders, "Senators Have Told Me If Obama Sends A ‘Piece Of Crap’ Debt Deal To Us, We’ll Defeat It."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says "Take Social Security Cuts Off the Table."  "We, as Democrats, must stand firm against any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits.  Period.  So I'm introducing a Senate resolution to tell the President and congressional budget negotiators on both sides of the aisle in unambiguous terms: Cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits should be off the table."  And he asks, "If Democrats can't unite to defend these hugely popular and successful programs -- and unequivocally reject Republican plans to dismantle them -- what do we stand for?"

One wonders if President Obama is simply doing his best as a negotiator to get a "balanced" deal where both sides have something to brag about -- a traditional approach.  Or we can wonder if this could be a deliberate political move by President Obama designed to demonstrate the inflexibility of the Conservative ideologues.  Such seems very risky for him and certainly risky for Medicare, Social Security, and their current and future recipients.  The aged and disabled rely too much on Medicare for it to be destroyed, particularly when no reasonable market-based approach has been conceived.

One of the items for the debt ceiling negotiations may be raising the Medicare eligibility age.  "Key negotiators in the debt limit talks are mulling a proposal to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, a source familiar with the discussions says.  Due to the volatility and sensitivity of the negotiations, Inside Health Policy could not confirm whether the White House and Republicans have agreed to include the provision in a final deal."

"Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel warned lawmakers on Friday that he would have trouble recruiting candidates for office if the party caved on Medicare during the debt ceiling negotiations.  The comments came during a closed-door caucus meeting. Multiple sources confirmed the remarks, describing them as 'impassioned.'"

Clearly, the Medicare-Debt Issue has become a significant test for Democrats.


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