A big lift from all of us
Today the progressives had a press conference on the Grand Bargain. And they had some requirements of their own:
"We're going to send a loud message to the leadership in the House, in the Senate and President Obama. Do not cut Social Security, do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid," Sanders said. "Deficit reduction is a serious issue but it must be done in a way that is fair. We must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children or the poor."
Whitehouse also said that the Defending Social Security Caucus, a 19-member group of senators founded by Sanders, would create a "firewall" in Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from cuts. Sanders highlighted Wednesday comments from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who said he would oppose any deal to cut the deficit that would reduce Social Security benefits. The notion that Social Security is in dire financial straits, Reid says, is a "myth" created by Republicans.
While most members of Congress at the event struck a positive tone, Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-Minn.) comments indicated a belief that Social Security is indeed in the crosshairs for a debt-reduction package, with strong political forces allied to cut benefits.
Averting cuts to benefits will "take a big lift from all of us," Ellison said.
Tom Harkin said that Medicare and Medicaid should be off the table during talks on the fiscal cliff.
He touted the results of the Nov. 6 election as evidence that Americans support raising taxes instead of cutting spending.
"When it comes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the American people told us to protect and strengthen these programs, not cut them," Harkin said.
"The American people want a change in the structure of who pays and making sure that we keep the programs that protect the poor, the disabled and the elderly," he told The Hill.
It's good to see some people making the progressive argument at long last. The media seems to be treating them as slightly slow children as usual, nodding patiently at the absurd notion that the "entitlements" don't have to be slashed mercilessly for our own good.Bbut it's been an article of faith among them for so long that I don't think they can conceive of any budget battles that don't turn on the idea of average people being required to "sacrifice."
If you'd like to sign Senator Sanders' petition, you can do it here.
Update: I just have to say one thing. I very much admire the progressives' work on this, the people at Social Security Works and others. It's vital (and somewhat galling frankly) that they stand up to the White House, the Conservadems, Wall Street and the Republicans to save the tattered safety net. I certainly stand with them.
But the sick truth is that none of this is necessary right now. We shouldn't even be talking about the deficit with nearly 8% unemployment and interest rates and inflation so low as to not even exist. It's daft. If I didn't know better I'd think they had another agenda.
Also too: this.
Update II: Oh, and nobody pay any attention to this whatever you do:
BRUSSELS -Hundreds of thousands of Europe's beleaguered citizens went on strike or snarled the streets of several capitals Wednesday, at times clashing with riot police, as they demanded that governments stop cutting benefits and create more jobs.
Workers with jobs and without spoke of a "social emergency" crippling the world's largest economic bloc, a union of 27 nations and half a billion people.
The protests were met with tear gas in Italy and Spain, but were largely limited to the countries hardest hit by the austerity measures designed to bring government spending into line with revenues. Wealthier nations like Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark saw only small, sedate demonstrations.
Governments backing the line of stringent austerity were not impressed by the show of force.
`'We must nevertheless do what is necessary: break open encrusted labor markets, give more people a chance to work, become more flexible in many areas," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. `'We will of course make this clear, again and again, in talks with the unions."
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos spoke of "a long crisis that has meant sacrifice and uncertainty," but said: "The government is convinced that the path we have taken is the only possible way out."
To combat a three-year financial crisis over too much sovereign debt, governments across Europe have had to raise taxes and cut spending, pensions and benefits. As well as hitting workers' incomes and living standards, these measures have also led to a decline in economic output and a sharp increase in unemployment.
No they didn't have to raise taxes and cut benefits. They chose to do it. And the results are impressive. So impressive our government wants to get in on some of that action apparently.
I keep seeing a vision of some future person studying this period and asking "
what were they thinking?" much as we say that about the period between the two World Wars.