Pelosi forces vote on Deficit Commission recommendations

For those of you who may be laboring under the illusion that the whole entire political establishment is NOT going to savage Social Security under the protection of a Democratic president, Nancy Pelosi just proved you wrong.

On Thursday, the House took up the War Supplemental bill. Keep in mind that every vote in the House includes a vote on the Rule — this is the meta-bill that lays on top of the real bill and controls how debate is conducted — for example, how much time is allocated, what amendments are allowed — and also what happens if the underlying bill passes.

For example, if the Rule of a given bill says that if the underlying bill passes, each member of the House has to woof like a dog, there would be woofing after final approval. If the Rule says that if a given bill passes, any bill passed by the Senate for the next 12 days also passes the House automatically — well, we’d be living in a very different country after those 12 days were up.

You get the idea — the Rule, issued by the leadership-controlled Rules Committee — is itself a very powerful piece of legislation, and the source of a great deal of manipulation. The Rule is typically the first vote prior to debate on the underlying bill, for obvious reasons.

So here’s what happened on Thursday: The House took up the War Supplemental bill, and embedded in the Rule for that bill is — well, I’ll let David Dayen at FireDogLake tell it (my emphasis):

It turns out the House took up five different votes. The first was a vote on the rule, which ended up being self-executing. In other words, the House voted to set the terms for debate on the bill, and never had to vote on the underlying bill. Inside the rule, the bill was “deemed” passed after the rule passed. That was a heavy lift, with opposition from Blue Dogs opposed to the social spending and progressives opposed to the war. It squeaked by, 215-210, with 38 Democrats voting no.

The budget resolution was included in that self-executing rule, and while it’s not really a budget – it’s somewhat different because it doesn’t include the specific appropriations – it limits discretionary spending below the President’s budget blueprint, and (in a controversial move) “Commits the House to vote on any Senate-passed recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission and that net savings from any Commission recommendations will go to deficit reduction.”

There you have it — whatever the Pete Peterson–controlled Deficit Commission & Cat Food Industry Employment Club shoves through the Senate, that bill will automatically get a vote in the House. This means the “work till you’re 70” recommendation, and the “don’t ask for last year’s benefits, ’cause Less is the new More” budget fix — already positioned as the “mildest” of the deficit fixes — is a near certainty.

Unless you’re currently a senior (who always votes), you’re had.

All thanks to Nancy Pelosi. So she’s in it too. It takes a Democrat to kill Social Security, and that’s what’s going to happen.

My point? Don’t be confused (recommendation no. 2 here). Social Security has no friends among people in power. None.

Primaries, folks. Primaries. Oh, and Nancy Pelosi’s office number: 202-225-4965


(By the way, for those of you who freak at the thought of deficits, consider this — you can “fix” the 2037-maybe Social Security crisis in an eye-blink. Just raise the salary cap on the amount taxed. Right now, wages over $106,800 are exempt from the FICA tax. Sweet deal for someone. Or . . . you could buy some time by spending that huge pile of cash Alan Greenspan put into the Trust Fund. Do you wonder why that’s not on the table? See point 4 here.)

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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