Monday, September 23, 2013
Another bogus legend: Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky
One of Blue America's favorite candidates for this congressional cycle is Daylin Leach, known as the liberal lion of the Pennsylvania state legislature. He is running for the open seat held by Allyson Schwartz (who is running for Governor.) His opponents include, in Howie's words:
...a cast of characters that includes state Rep. Brendan Boyle an ambitious and virulent anti-Choice fanatic, the choice of the corrupt Philly Machine and of the forces trying to dismantle public education in Pennsylvania; physician Val Arkoosh who knows a lot about medicine and public health policy and... nothing else; and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, an increasingly loopy one-term congresswoman from 1992 whose son, a Goldman Sachs investment banker, married Chelsea Clinton
I'm sure most political junkies my age remember Margolies-Mezvinsky from the famous Clinton Budget Act of 1993, in which she played the role of heroic sacrificial lamb and lost her seat in 94 allegedly because she was the "deciding vote". The Clinton Machine is fond of her for obvious reasons. (In fact I've heard they see this seat as destined for her daughter-in-law. She is now in her
60s 70s, so it's not all that far-fetched.)
Anyway, Howie turned this up which should be of interest to all progressive activists who follow House elections --- and it should be of very serious interest to the constituents of the 13th district:
Margolies is a liberal on women's issues but, for a Democrat, a raging conservative on issues of economic justice. A few days ago she told the Philadelphia Daily News why she almost didn't vote for the Clinton budget. She claims President Clinton asked her "What would it take?" to get her to vote for the budget. "I said I wanted to talk about entitlements, I wanted further cuts, and I'll only be your last vote-- if you need it. And he did." Cutting entitlements and screwing working families is the kind of Democrat Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky has always been-- and that's one old dog that is definitely not learning any new tricks. If you go to http://www.margoliesforcongress.com/ you come upon a Phildadelphia Inquirer story from June, 1994, "Social Security Curbs Proposed Marjorie Margolies-mezvinsky Is Touting Major Changes. Her GOP Foe, Jon Fox, Opposes The Plan."
"We do not deal with a problem like the deficit by creating income stagnation among the elderly" Good line. Correct philosophy. Perhaps he can have a word with his daughter's mother in law (and President Obama) about that. But I can't say I'd believe her is she says she's changed her mind, which apparently she hasn't. If you thought 20 years ago that Social Security was bankrupting the country and learned absolutely nothing from the ensuing ups and downs of the budget debate (and how irrelevant it all is to anything resembling our real problems) then you aren't likely to be a secure "no" if it ever comes to the floor.
Voters in PA-13 should read it carefully. This is a candidate who is eager to cut Social Security and other benefits for working families. She sounds like a garden variety Republican, although the Republican that beat her in 1994 was more a defender of Social Security than she was-- and the way she disappointed the Democratic base and kept voters away from the polls is why she was really defeated that year. Her proposal to cut back on Social Security for retired Americans was even too conservative for Bill Clinton, who pointedly told her that "we do not deal with a problem like the deficit by (creating) income stagnation among the elderly."
Check out that article from 1994:
Calling it the first fruit of last year's conference on entitlement spending, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky announced legislation yesterday that would raise the retirement age for Social Security recipients and limit their cost-of-living adjustments. Margolies-Mezvinsky, who is seeking re-election, said the proposals would ensure Social Security's solvency and keep her pledge to control the costs of politically sensitive entitlement programs.
She lost. And they blamed it on her vote for the Clinton tax increase even though it was 1994, the year Newt Gingrich took over the world, and her Republican opponent won as the protector of Social Security. Who says Democrats don't have a talent for airbrushing history?
Social Security officials predicted in April that the trust fund would go broke in 35 years because of demographic shifts that would leave fewer workers supporting more retirees. Margolies-Mezvinsky's proposal is a political gamble for the freshman Democrat, who is already in the doghouse with many constituents because of her 11th-hour switch last year in favor of President Clinton's budget bill and tax increases.
The current legislation, which Margolies-Mezvinsky is sponsoring with Minnesota Democrat Timothy J. Penny, would raise the retirement age to 70 by the year 2013-- beginning in 1999 and increasing the age by four months annually. The retirement age currently ranges from 65 for those born before 1938 to 67 for those born after 1959. Those who retire earlier get reduced benefits. The proposal would give only the bottom 20 percent of Social Security recipients the full cost-of-living adjustment, which is tied to the Consumer Price Index. Other recipients would receive a flat cost-of-living adjustment equal to that for recipients at the 20th percentile.
Margolies-Mezvinsky had made Clinton's attendance at December's entitlement conference at Bryn Mawr College a condition for her support of his budget. The budget increased taxes for affluent workers and for single Social Security recipients with incomes over $34,000 and couples with incomes over $44,000. Although Clinton attended the conference, he said there should be only minor unspecified changes in Social Security. "We do not want to deal with a problem like the deficit by (creating) income stagnation among the elderly," Clinton said. White House officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Social Security is among the touchiest issues for Congress, due in part to the lobbying strength of the American Association of Retired Persons, which claims 33 million members. "They're not opposed to this," Margolies-Mezvinsky said. "We've been working with them so that we get their input." But Martin Corry, AARP's director of federal affairs, said he was unaware of any contact between his group and Margolies-Mezvinsky since December. He said AARP would oppose any form of "means testing" such as Margolies-Mezvinsky's proposal on cost-of-living adjustments. "Changing the retirement age to age 70 is really premature," he added. ''There may well be changes in the retirement age, and they can be done gradually. I've seen nothing to suggest it needs to go to 70."
Republican Jon D. Fox, who will face Margolies-Mezvinsky in November, said he opposed her proposal, as well as another Democratic plan to increase payroll taxes. Fox said he would have to study the issue further before making a proposal of his own. "I'm going to be coming out in this campaign with proposals dealing with the protection of Social Security," Fox said in a telephone interview. "I'll be getting back to you on them."
Margolies-Mezvinsky said she did not know how the proposals would play in her largely Republican Montgomery County district. "My feeling is it's the right thing to do. I think that what happens when you get to Washington is you see people saying to their constituents what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear."
Daylin Leach is unequivocal on this. He supports the Grayson-Takano "No Cuts" pledge saying:
At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans.
That's who we need in the Democratic caucus, not someone who has been trying to cut Social Security for over 20 years. If Margolies-Mezvinsky had had her way back then, the retirement age would be 70 right now. Are there a lot of jobs available to 69 year olds out there? (And considering the fact that people in their 20s can't find work, should there be?)
What this points out is that Democrats have been offering up Social Security cuts for a very long time which makes no sense as a matter of ideology or practical politics. Republicans are much more ideologically suited to the task although they too have to deal with a constituency which does not want cuts. (Very few citizens do.) It's past time for members of the Democratic Party to stop using this vital program as a convenient symbol for their alleged fiscal rectitude.
We need to expand benefits, not cut them. And we will never get there if we don't stop electing Democrats to congress on a platform of cutting them.
You can be sure that every candidate on this list is running with a promise to protect the vital safety net.
Update: Corrected typo -- Margolies-Mezvinsky is in her 60's not her 80s! Also, Schwartz running for Governor not Senator. Apologies ..
digby 9/23/2013 11:30:00 AM