Which members of Congress oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare

This is an update to our previous post about the Grand Bargain and how to stop it.

A couple of items:

1. The “whip count” page — the page that shows which senators and House members support No Cuts — has been posted at the Huffington Post as well. You may want to bookmark that page. This issue will certainly heat up as Sandy dies down and the election frenzy passes.

2. We now know, thanks to the Des Moines Register, that Obama plans to push the Grand Bargain into the next six months — assuming he remounts the throne, of course. Here’s Obama as quoted in the newspaper article:

Elderly Medicare Social Security seniors

Woman via Shutterstock

President Barack Obama voiced confidence that if re-elected he would secure within six months a deficit-reduction deal with Republicans equivalent to the “grand bargain” he failed to achieve last year. …

“It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant,” he said of the negotiations ahead. “But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,” Obama said.

Notice the six-month’s timeline. The Bush–Obama Tax Cuts (remember, 2010 made them his as well) expire automatically at the end of this year. The “sequester” of funds also kicks in after the end of this year. This means across-the-board mandated budget cuts, indiscriminately applied. (For good information on what “the sequester” means, read the Yahoo News article at the link. Just ignore the scary initial paragraphs and go for the meat.)

But before you get scared of the sequester, remember, it can be reversed in January (or June) and the reversal can be made retroactive. (See? The Congress that can tie its own hands, can untie them at will. Voilà, no sequester; just kidding.)

This new timeline gives room for much more play. Daddy Koch (sorry, David Koch, who controls all AFP-funded Republican office-holders) has given the green light for “tax increases” — his words — which means Obama has his fig leaf for cutting the safety net. He can now point to a so-called win for his eager destruction of the Dem brand. (Why “eager”? Watch this clip of Obama in 2006 talking to a roomful of fresh-faced Rubinites about not being chained to the solutions of the 1930s. Again, that’s him in 2006.)

Get ready for the battle of 2013

So gear up, folks, and gird up as well. First fight, the lame duck itself, the last session of the old Congress before new members are sworn in. Sen. Sanders is leading this fight to make sure the bad deal doesn’t pass. Your help is needed:

  1. Sign Sen. Sanders petition at www.signon.org/nocuts.
  2. Call your senators and representatives. The phone numbers are here and here. Be polite but firm, seriously firm.
  3. Report your results to lameduck@socialsecurityworks.org.
  4. Watch the whipcount page for updates.

Then prepare to fight through the next six months. The good news is that we’re not only right, we have huge majorities of people behind us. In addition, if the Democrats do attempt this — driven by god-knows-what combination of Rubinesque wickedness and complicit Dem leadership (did someone mention Open Rebellion?) — they will likely write their party’s epitaph with it (scroll down to the Krugman comment). Obama will never again stand for election — his next job is to take million-dollar thank-you money for speeches and to tour the world in an endless victory lap — but most Democrats now in office will try to return.

My advice — tell them now, early and often, that cuts to the safety net are a bridge too far. Call them — again, the phone numbers are here and here.

Try this. Tell them you’re cancelling your vote for them — right now, this time, next week — if they don’t agree to the No Cuts plan. (It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you. What you actually do in the voting booth is your business, not theirs. If the threat is credible, you don’t have to pull the trigger if you don’t want to.)

Soften them up with a scare. Then call them again after November and keep it up.

Stay optimistic on this one

I’ll have more on this phase as it develops. You’re not alone; many good people are working to win this as well. Cuts to the safety net, tax cuts for the already-too-rich — the Grand Bargain really is a bridge too far. Stay optimistic; this one is winnable. Ultimately, only the hyper-rich (Our Betters) — and their eager enablers — are not on our side. We just have to learn to use our leverage. Time to learn that is now.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • rmthunter

     tiresias, it’s still a cut to a payment that is slim enough to begin with.

    karmanot, Obama’s “cuts” to Medicard and Medicaid are reduced costs, not reduced benefits.  The Romney/Ryan plan is just the opposite.

  • tiresias

    karmanot, i don’t see how simpson/bowles decimates ss.  chained cpi amounts to a 3 percent cut per decade to be offset by a longevity increase at age 80 of 5 percent. so if  you live to be 95, you get cut 4 percent (3+3+3-5=4). 

  • rmthunter

    GP –

    As we discussed, I did write Sen. Durbin again:
     
    “Dear Sen. Durbin:

    Thank you for your response to my concerns about Social Security, but I have to confess that your answer was not reassuring.  Let me point out a couple of specific issues:

    “Protecting the financial stability and integrity of the Social Security trust fund” — by all reports, the trust fund is not in any danger and will provide an adequate return, according to your own letter, for nearly thirty years, and the possible fixes there are very simple, starting with an increase in the cap on payroll taxes.  (I question your comment that the trust fund will be “depleted.”  This strikes me as an actuarial term of art that is out of place in a general discussion, but I must admit that it has good scare value.)  You might find this report helpful: http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/report_card_on_social_security.php?page=all

    What concerns me is what seems like a “bipartisan” attempt to cut benefits by any means possible, which concerns are only reinforced by your reference to “shared sacrifice.”  You may not be aware that, outside of Washington, “shared sacrifice” translates as “we’re going to stick it to you again.”  Nor am I reassured by discussions of moving the COLA to a “chained CPI,” which from what I understand is simply an underhanded way of reducing cost of living increases even further.  Raising the retirement age is just another approach to the same end — reducing benefits.

    What I find particularly outrageous is the continued association of Social Security (as well as Medicare and Medicaid) with “deficit reduction,” when Social Security, at least, has nothing to do with the deficit.  I suggest that Social Security be banished to another room during any discussion of “deficit reduction.”  I suggest that quite strongly.

    I will be confident that you are working for the interests of the majority of citizens of Illinois when you assure me, in plain language, and you will work against any cuts to Social Security and that you have signed on to Sen. Sanders’ letter.

    http://www.sanders.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/092012-DearColleague.pdf

    Sincerely. . . .”

    Sent this early last week.  I have not heard back.  I doubt that I will.

    And sadly, the whip count tables are blank right now.  I know my congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, is in the “no cuts” camp and will be as long as she has an option.  I’m going to write her to encourage her to hold on. 

  • http://adgitadiaries.blog-city.com karmanot

     Wash, Rinse, Repeat: ‘Wake Up.’ The Dems are doing their best TO cave. It’s called the Simpson/Bowles Grand Bargain. Obama’s tweaking will lead to drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

  • tiresias

    you’re excused Dory. obama wants to tweak ss and medicare. romney/ryan want to decimate it. repubs have been against ss since 1935 and against medicare since 1965. the dems are just doing their best not to cave in too much to the ravenous wolves on the right. we have to help and encourage them with the only thing we have: our vote! 

  • http://adgitadiaries.blog-city.com karmanot

     You are not excused. Wake up! Nobama is leading the pack on decimating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

  • http://adgitadiaries.blog-city.com karmanot

    Post election, Congress could give a damn about what constituents  think. I signed Sander’s petition and wrote Diane Feinstein, who wrote back expressing her appreciation for my concern, but intends to support a grand bargain. I wrote back, that I would not vote for her—-the only Democrat I voided on the ballot. Further, Nancy Pelosi on Charlie Rose, waxed enthusiastically with certainly that Obama will push through a Grand Bargain based on Simpson-Bowles that will cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and a host of other safety net ‘entitlements.’ This is what the lesser of two evils looks like folks.

  • A reader in Colorado

    I’m sorry, unless you actually pull the lever sometime for none of the above, or a third party candidate, threats to vote for someone else are meaningless.  The Democrats give meaningless promises and then pose for the election, with an explicit “whatcha gonna do, vote for Republicans?” strategy.

    This pledge is meaningless.  The Democrats routinely break promises like this one and always expect Democrats to fall in line because of boogeyman Republicans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dory-Mclaughlin/567487898 Dory Mclaughlin

    excuse me????????…..it is Mittens and his Teaparty who will shred our safety nets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!you idiot!!!!!!!!!

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