Keith Ellison: “I don’t care what party you’re in. I’m in the Social Security party.”

Is Dem resistance to Neoliberal Leadership spreading in Congress? Here’s Keith Ellison and Elizabeth Warren on Social Security benefit cuts. Listen; it sure sounds like it.

On May 8 the House Progressive Caucus (CPC) and others held a Summit on Defending Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans’ Benefits in the Hart Senate Office Building in DC. From the press release, the speakers included:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), will join members of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign to hold a summit Wednesday to discuss legislative and grassroots efforts to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits.

Sanders, Grijalva, and Ellison will be joined by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

I’m embedding two short clips that make my point — that whether they will say so publicly or not, Democratic resistance to neoliberal leaders is hardening. I see the nascent core of my hoped-for Open Rebellion Caucus forming before our eyes. Let the games begin.

First Keith Ellison in a short but powerful clip.

Some samples (my emphasis):

At 0:30 — “Social Security is no bargaining chip.”

He could have been speaking right to Mr. Bargaining Chip himself, “progressive” Dem. Henry Waxman, who didn’t show up. And then these fighting words:

Keith-EllisonAt 2:16 — “We’re not gonna let anybody mess with [Social Security]. And I’m gonna tell you this: I don’t care who is talking about messing with Social Security, we’re gonna fight back. I don’t care what office they occupy. I don’t care what party you’re in. ‘Cause I’m in the Social Security party.

Now Elizabeth Warren with some strong words of her own:

Highlights:

At 1:09 — “We wouldn’t let our government repeal Social Security, and we are not going to let them dismantle it inch by inch. That will not happen.”

Sounds pretty clear to me; no “Follow the Neoliberal Leader” for her, at least on this issue.

At 2:08 — “This truly is a conversation about our values. So let’s just put it out there, about our values.

Elizabeth-Warren3“Right now, there are people who would cut benefits to seniors, who are living on about 1100 dollars a month, at the same time they will support billions of dollars of subsidies to big oil companies, that’s wrong, that’s just wrong!

“Right now there are people who would cut benefits to seniors who are living on about 1100 dollars a month but they would support continuing tax breaks for companies that send jobs oversees, that’s wrong!

“Right now there are people who want to cut benefits for seniors who live on 1100 dollars a month, but at the same time they support maintaining subsidies for big agricultural companies, that’s wrong.”

Hmm. See here for more on your Monsanto senators.

3:09 — “This debate is about our values, this debate is about what kind of a people we are and what kind of country we are going to build, I believe we are a people who honor our commitments to our seniors, that’s what we do, that’s the kind of people we are. We don’t ask our seniors to take cuts, while we let corporations line up for special handouts, we don’t do that, that’s not a reflection of our values.”

Stay for the Aunt Bea story at the end. It’s right and it’s really touching.

Now more than ever, Open Rebellion please

One last word about the Open Rebellion Caucus (or whatever it ends up being called). If “our progressives” in Congress don’t stop standing up for the needs of the wealthy (that’s you, Mr. Waxman) instead of the needs of the people, they’re not our representatives at all, but representatives of the 1%.

I have three messages:

Dear progressives in Congress, the times are calling you out. There’s no parsing this bright line, no triangulating halfway support that pleases both sides. To you who hear that call and respond, welcome. You will be counted heroes of the 99%.

To “progressives” who think they can fence-sit and not be known as false to your nation and your constituents, that day is ending, that sun has set. This issue will call you out; be prepared to answer, or have your K-Street résumé ready. No Congressional benefits-cutter will survive a competitive race in 2014.

And to President Barack Obama, thank you sir, for stiffening the spines of our progressive representatives, by so persistently demanding that they bend. We owe you lunch.

Yours in stiff spines,

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


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

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