Sequester news: Pelosi again onboard with “Chained CPI”; HR 900 now has 26 cosponsors

This is very much an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand news piece. The Sequester keeps making the news, and not always in a good way. First, more about Nancy Pelosi. Then some HR 900 news.

What’s up with Pelosi? Sadly, we know

Let’s start with Dem House Leader Nancy Pelosi. From The Hill:

Pelosi open to looking at Obama proposal to cut Social Security

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she’ll consider Social Security cuts as part of a sweeping deficit-reduction package.

Ahead of a meeting between President Obama and House Democrats, Pelosi said moving to a less generous formula for adjusting Social Security benefits to inflation — if it protects the most vulnerable Social Security beneficiaries — might be preferable to other entitlement cuts Republicans are urging, like raising Medicare’s eligibility age.

So Pelosi caves again to the free-traders (billionaire-backed neoliberals) in control of her party. I won’t go all the way back to the previous rounds, when she praised Simpson-Bowles then muddled her praise. Let’s just look at this recent timeline:

■ December 6, 2012:

At House Speaker John A. Boehner’s request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say.

All sides, even the parties excluded, say clearing the negotiating room improves the chance of success. It adds complexity as the two negotiators consult separately with the leaders not in the room.

This is the second time at least that Pelosi has been denied a “seat at the table” despite being her party’s leader in the House.

■ Now move to December 19:

Though Chained CPI would reduce lifetime benefits relative to the current cost of living adjustment formula, Pelosi said she does not consider it a benefit cut. “No, I don’t,” consider it a benefit cut, she said. “I consider it a strengthening of Social Security.”

Be sure to read, at the link, her earlier rejection of that position.

Looks like going along to get along to me. She now has a “seat at the table,” though a subservient one. Here’s Howie Klein on how Nancy Pelosi’s been folded into the pro-billionaire Neoliberal tent:

Pelosi: “I’m in my place: as the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.”So… is there anyone, with any modicum of power in DC who we can hope will carry– effectively carry– the banner of progressive values and principles … ? Look at the Democratic House leadership. Nancy’s best days– and they were great days– are behind her. Sorry but, basically, she’s one of them now. [sigh]. Then there’s Hoyer, Clyburn, Becerra, Israel, Wasserman Schultz and Crowley [in the House Democratic leadership], except for Becerra a really, really bad bunch. They’re corrupt political hacks with a tendency towards conservatism. Not on social issues; they’re at least grudgingly pro-Choice and pro-gay and all. But on bread and butter issues, these are not friends of ordinary working families. They’re friends of big donors, corporations and K Street. Except for Becerra.

So when I say the Democratic leadership is filled with Neolibs like Hoyer and Neolib-enablers like Pelosi

Some [Democrats] are strongly in favor of benefit cuts. This group includes Barack Obama (obviously) and also House neoliberals like Steny Hoyer and neoliberal enablers like Nancy Pelosi. Some oppose cuts but don’t want to buck the neoliberal leaders of their party.

… this is what I’m talking about. It isn’t rhetoric. She’s been folded into the tent; is playing along for all she’s worth. And sadly is not your friend. Look for her, as a supposed “progressive,” to pressure progressives to fold when there’s an actual bill to vote on. Her brand gives them ground cover. That’s now her job.

Time to remove her brand, for our own protection? I actually think it’s critical to do that. In the world of power, there needs to be consequences for behavior like this. (Anyone want to do some Freeway Blogging in Pelosi’s district? Or in Washington DC? I’m serious, and you’ll have a blast.)

More Democratic HR 900 cosponsors

And in good news, the number of cosponsors to HR 900 — the Cancel the Sequester Act — has almost doubled, to 26. The new names are:

Last name First District Party Phone Frosh? CPC?
Brown Corrine FL-05 D 202-225-0123 1
Cummings Elijah MD-7 D 202-225-4741 1
Davis Danny IL-07 D 202-225-5006 1
Hastings Alcee FL-20 D 202-225-1313
Lofgren Zoe CA-19 D 202-225-3072
Pingree Chellie ME-1 D 202-225-6116 1
Pocan Mark WI-2 D 202-225-2906 Y 1
Schakowsky Jan IL-09 D 202-225-2111 2
Shea-Porter Carol NH-1 D 202-225-5456 Y
Vargas Juan CA-51 D 202-225-8045 Y
Holmes Norton Eleanor DC D-Del 202-225-8050 1

Each deserves your thanks, especially of they represent your district.

The name Jan Schakowsky deserves note. There has been an attempt to broaden the cosponsor list to include more than the usual progressive suspects (though the “usual progressive suspects” are still welcome!). So it’s good to have names like Zoe Lofgren, for example, who is not in the Progressive Caucus, and Juan Vargas, who’s on the corporatist New Dems list.

Schakowsky is an interesting special case. She’s presented as a “liberal” by frequent friendly visits to MSNBC, and she’s an organizing leader within the House Progressive Caucus (that’s why there’s a “2” in the CPC column). But she also has many “centrist” (neoliberal) tendencies and allegiances.

For example, in the matter of the two House letters — the one promising to vote No on cuts, and the one just withholding “support” for cuts — once CPC leaders Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva signed both letters, the weaker letter was being linked to Schakowsky’s name. (There’s also this; search the link for “Progressive Choices PAC”, which Schakowsky leads.)

This is not to bury Schakowsky, but to praise her. To have someone with her centrist leanings onboard is good, and we hope she can bring others. A call to thank Jan Schakowsky and encourage her to talk this up among her friends may not be wasted.

Democratic House heroes list

The list of Democratic House members who have either signed the strong Grayson-Takano letter (promising a No vote on cuts) or cosponsored HR 900, or both is lengthening. We now have 41 names. If there’s movement on the Grayson-Takano letter — yet more names to be added — I’ll note that and publish an updated heroes list.

We’ve been calling out the villians — that’s you, sir, at the link. Time to thank — and further encourage — those who act on their consciences and not just their careers.


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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