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:


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,


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

  1. Don’t look now, but he’s been pushing chained CPI for years.

  2. Mike Meyer says:

    Save YOUR Social Security, call Boehner @1-202-225-0600. Express YOUR concerns!

  3. FunMe says:

    Didn’t Bernie Sanders say he wouldn’t vote for a health care bill that did not include a Public Option but at the end voted for one without it anyway?

  4. FunMe says:

    I praying (since “hope” was made a bad word by Obam) … I am praying that truly there are real progressives in our government who will fight back. I understand your concern because last time with the “public option” we had Bernie Sanders say he would not vote for anything without a public option. At the end he caved. And he “justified” with some bs.

    Fingers crossed that this time there are politicians who will fight back for WE THE PEOPLE.

  5. Mocas Dad says:

    Huh, that’s interesting. I don’t see my rep, “liberal icon” Chellie Pingree’s name listed anywhere in this article. If Obama’s budget ever comes up for a vote, I will be utterly shocked if she doesn’t vote for it. Combination of thinking she’s bulletproof with an uber-safe district and that she can make a persuasive defense for the vote, a la Waxman’s “things we want” rationale.

  6. Mocas Dad says:

    Those are not small things. I could see this coming after his paper-thin victory. His advisors undoubtedly convinced him to tack right if he wanted to win in 2014.Too often, it seems that even Dems who have won handily wake up the day after the election in a defensive crouch, ready to compromise needlessly or “stand up to their base”. They never seem to realize it won’t help them in their next election. If Todd Aiken hadn’t imploded, McCaskill would have been toast. Look at the blue dog bloodbath in 2010.

  7. Bill_Perdue says:

    I don’t mind a bit of screaming at all.

    People are already dying because they have to choose between food, rent or meds. People are dying because they had to choose between the military and the certainty of prison or abject poverty. People are dying because HMO’s murder them knowing they’ll never get prosecuted. People are dying because workplaces are becoming killing fields.

    For years that dying has been quiet, by people alone, desperate and out of options. That time is coming to an end. The time is coming when American workers, youth. prisoners, GIs and retirees are going to start ROARING.

    I can’t wait.

  8. BeccaM says:

    In short, it seems like Franken’s blind spots come with authoritarian measures such as the IP act and the Defense authorization, and with anything touching on BigAg, such as his vote against labeling GMO foods and for ag subsidies.

    He was also on board with the Senate amendment to cut SNAP (food stamp) funding.

  9. pappyvet says:

    “But Lord,” said Thomas. “The crowd will go hungry.” Jesus was amazed at his hard-headedness. “That’s not my problem, Thomas. Better that their stomachs are empty than they become overly dependent on someone in authority to provide loaves and fishes for them. Where will it end? Will I have to feed them everyday?” “No, Lord,” said Thomas, “Just today. When they are without food. When they have eaten their fill, they will be healthy, and so able to listen to your word and learn from you.” Jesus was grieved at Thomas’s answer. “It is written: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” So taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and took one loaf and one fish for himself, and gave the rest to the twelve, based on their previously agreed-upon per diem. But he gave none to the very poorly prepared crowd because they needed to be taught a lesson. So Jesus ate and was filled. The disciples somewhat less so. What was left over was gathered up and saved for Jesus’s next meal, should he grow hungry.” Rev. james Martin

  10. karmanot says:

    I was wrong– more good than bad–some links. here— and here… I have trouble with S amdt 2156 & S amdt 2310

  11. ezpz says:

    Yes, either “she’s delusional” or she thinks we’re stooopid. Probably both.

    LOL @ Gore/Internet/Supreme Court

  12. ezpz says:

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but ‘knowledge is power.’

    And I definitely won’t vote for Shillary either.

  13. Whitewitch says:

    I guess you have to ask who no nominated Jack Lew first, then look at who voted to confirm and why…that is a complex issue. Nice hit piece though at Legalinsurrection, thanks for sharing…guess she is just another President Obama giving cheery speeches while playing at Goddess only know what. NOT I am VERY VERY sad…

    P.S. Can’t vote for Clinton either, sorry I just can’t…what is a witch to do?

  14. Whitewitch says:

    Really Karmanot – can you point me to some info…I contribute so would love to not be contributing when I could spend my money somewhere better. Thanks for sharing.

  15. karmanot says:

    My ears are ringing, but I’m with ya.

  16. karmanot says:

    It is the end, a new world begins. A thousand points of lights bearing corporate logos will replace the sovereign flags of former nations.

  17. Bill_Perdue says:

    “She also takes credit for OWS.” She’s delusional Obama’s betrayals created the OWS cadres, many of whom were his supporters in 2008 and had to learn the hard way.

    But it is true that Gore invented the internet. And to punish him the Supreme court ruled against him in 2000.

  18. karmanot says:

    Al Franken is a sellout…..

  19. nicho says:

    Note to all the Debbie Downers — it doesn’t have to be either/or.

  20. GaiusPublius says:

    At the end of the Elizabeth Warren clip. IIRC, it’s in the last minute. Nice story.


  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    People forget what happened to retirees and the disabled after the Stalinist run USSR collapsed. They were cut off and ended up on the streets where they died in vast numbers.

  22. BeccaM says:

    I know. Both of my Senators (NM) went completely wobbly and sold out.

  23. pappyvet says:

    I’ve said it before,Bill and I’ll say it again. The repubs and dems are more like the Yankees and the Tigers.Before the big game a Tiger will say that the Yankees are all wet,we’ve got the coaching,we’ve got the mitts. A Yankee will say B.S. we’ve got the heavy bats so on and so forth. But in the back where the money is discussed,they are blood brothers. It’s all a show. But even the ball teams will do their best on the field. Not so with our government. With 10% controling 90% of the wealth , we are quickly being surrounded by money and power. I do believe that there are a few who give a damn but their voices will be compromised.
    Agitate,agitate,as Frederick Douglas said,is our only course unless we devolve into civil war and bloodshed. And after decades of rightwing hate talk and leftwing apathy and vote counting,it would be a bloody time. Many would froth at the chance even against their own best interests.And the money? Well,it sure would not be used to defend the working and middle class. These are more perilous times I fear,than many pay attention to.

  24. Rebaf says:

    Apparently, Keith’s coming out with a book soon. Whether you’re a critic or supporter, it should be a solid read.

  25. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats make the same mistake over and over again and it’s why their sentiments and efforts are wasted.

    Elizabeth Warren is a warmonger. Like Obama.

    From Common Dreams and Al-Akhbar

    “While progressives celebrate Warren for her fight against the big banks and the financial industry’s lobbying arm, they have kept silent over the fact that she has enlisted with another powerful lobby that is willing to sabotage America’s economic recovery in order to advance its narrow interests. It is AIPAC, the key arm of the Israel lobby; a group that is openly pushing for a US war on Iran that would likely trigger a global recession, as the renowned economist Nouriel Roubini recently warned. The national security/foreign policy position page on Warren’s campaign website reads as though it was cobbled together from
    AIPAC memos and the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry by the Democratic Party hacks who are advising her. … She then declares that the United States must reject any Palestinian plans to pursue statehood outside of negotiations with Israel. While the US can preach to the Palestinians about how and when to demand the end of their 45-year-long military occupation, Warren says the US “cannot dictate the terms” to Israel. … Warren goes on to describe Iran as “a significant threat to the United States,” echoing a key talking point of fear-mongering pro-war forces. She calls for “strong sanctions” and declares that the “United States must take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” — a veiled endorsement of a military strike if Iran crosses the constantly shifting American “red lines.”

  26. Clevelandchick says:

    They need to stand strong and filibuster any attempt, they need to use the Senate rules the way Republicans do.

  27. Just_AC says:

    Where’s the Aunt Bea story?

  28. Moderator4 says:

    BeccaM and nicho are correct. Your views are welcome on this blog, but using all caps is rude, and unacceptable. Please do not use them henceforth.
    You may certainly use them for the occasional sentence, but not for the entire comment.

  29. BeccaM says:

    Nicho’s point is you don’t scream at the people who already agree with your position.

  30. JayRandal says:

    Bernie Sanders is the best Senator this nation has ever had in our history. I am glad Sen. Warren joins him in opposing Chained-CPI for Social Security. Likewise Rep. DeFazio and Rep. Ellison are both good progressives as opposed to Rep. Waxman who is a DINO. President Obama is on wrong side of fence on this issue. If he pushes Chained-CPI for Social Security, then those on the political left such as myself would be forced to oppose him. GOPers desire to impeach him for stupid things like Benghazi event, but if he pushes Chained-CPI he should be impeached for doing it.

  31. nicho says:

    Most of us here agree with you. No need to scream. It’s very impolite

  32. lynchie says:

    So few joining the battle.

  33. I disagree, THERE IS A NEED TO SCREAM.

    These austerity measures have the potentiality to KILL people. The other day, a neighbor of mine’s daughter was rejected medicaid, oddly enough. And, it was strange that this would happen because this is a lower-middle class family, what others would call barely living above the “poverty line.”

    Anyway, her condition has worsened, from what I can tell, it looks like pneumonia. Private donations from the local diocese have only provided $5.78, for this poor little girl, and her parents’ jobs don’t provide them with insurance or some type of health care benefit.

    Should I even go into my other neighbor down the street who’s been in the military his whole life, and was recently rejected his benefits?

    Or, how about my friend’s grandma who’s recently been rejected chemo therapy due to the sequester???


  34. Whitewitch says:

    You go Elizabeth!!!! 2016 Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken!!!!

  35. nicho says:

    “Hey, sorry your kid got mowed down by an AK47, but we were busy saving our Social Security.”

  36. nicho says:

    No need to scream.

  37. jomicur says:

    I’m not by nature an optimist, but every time I start despairing totally over the future of the country I stumble across clips like these and hope, however faintly, is rekindled. I love these legislators and will do everything I can to support them. My native skepticism about politicians goes on hold when I hear them pledge to uphold our country’s values rather than the values of corporate But, as always, I find myself wondering if they are strong enough and numerous enough to deliver.

    Also, I find myself wondering how the fact that one of Social Security’s most valiant defenders is a Muslim plays with the troglodytes who keep insisting that all Muslims everywhere are pure evil and that nothing good could ever come from any of them.

  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats will go along with cuts by a large enough margin to get cuts enacted.

    Just as they did with loyalty oaths under Truman, genocide under LBJ, deregulation and union busting under Carter, NAFTA, deregulation, DOMA and DADT under Clinton and QE’s and union busting under Obama.

    Republicans will vote for cuts with a large majority.

    That’s how it’s done. They’ll get passed. The fix is on.

    The Democrat and Republican parties are the enemies of working people. Individual Democrat politicians are defined by being Democrats, not ‘progressives’. In the context of the Democrat party ‘progressive’ is like support for marriage equality by rebranded bigots like Obama, the Clintons and all the other newly minted ‘pro-gay’ rebranded politicians. In both cases they do it to build their voting bases and appeal for contributions. And in the end, like Kucinich, who voted against medicare for all, or Warren, a hardline supporter of foreign wars of aggression, they cave.

    What might save Social Security and what’s left of Medicare is a mass movement that can organize large national and regional demonstration, like the antiwar movement of the 60’s and 70’s, that has a militant ‘No Means No” attitude and demands increasing Social Security benefits and Medicare for all.

  39. Forget Gun Control. That battle helps The Right. Focus your energy here. This issue crosses party lines and if we lose here this will kill far more Americans than guns do.





  41. sunmusing says:

    Finally, these folks are saying something…

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