There are mixed messages in this report by Elise Foley in the Huffington Post, so I’ll try to treat both points.
The piece starts (my emphasis throughout):
Progressives in Congress are largely holding their fire at the White House over reports that President Obama is considering deep Social Security and Medicare cuts as part of a debt ceiling deal. Cuts to entitlement programs have been floating for several weeks around the edges of the conversation, but moved to the center of the debate Thursday morning, when a report that Obama would offer to “tackle the rising cost of Social Security” appeared on the front page of the Washington Post. Liberals outside of Congress, however, are wasting no time trying to pop that trial balloon.
So that’s the executive summary. The writer then notes that “a dozen [actually two dozen] members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus” wrote Obama a letter “asking him to refuse cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.” Raul Grijalva, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, is quoted as opposing “a final deal if it involves entitlement cuts and does not include revenue-raisers” (Foley’s language, indirectly quoting Grijalva).
But then the kicker, and the reason for Foley’s headline (and mine):
But Grijalva and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a vice chair of the caucus, defended the president for signaling he would be willing to take a look at changes to the programs, arguing there are ways to restructure entitlement spending to save money without hurting beneficiaries.
Other Democrats have made a similar shift over the past two weeks, as lawmakers strain to find a deal that raises revenues while at the same time making spending cuts. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a top message-maker for Senate Democrats, said on June 24 that Democrats would be open to delivery-side reforms to Medicare, which they have previously said should be kept off the table.
I don’t trust Schumer, but Grijalva? Sounds like either wiggle room or party loyalty. “Holding their fire” doesn’t mean progressives won’t shoot later, but it sure would be nice for us small people if these supposed progressives would take a firm stand. Everyone opposed to them sure has.
Read the article yourself, in full, and decide.
This Social Security thing is turning into a Rorschach test, isn’t it? Everyone who comments on it, from politicians to news anchors, can’t help but expose their position.
My suggestion — aside from writing to every congressperson you can claim and say, “No no no” — is to keep watch on who looks firm and who looks wobbly in their commenting. The wobbly ones (that’s you, Jonathan Alter) are working against the safety net, and this time it’s hard to disguise it.