What we learned from this fight (part 3/3)
While the president and Senate Democrats refused to negotiate under the duress of these must-pass bills that were crucial to the economy, Democrats were quite clear that they were more than willing to agree to benefit cuts. And part of the framework agreed to yesterday includes an explicit timeline for those negotiations, which are scheduled to conclude by December 13.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third most powerful Democrat in the Senate, let the cat out of the bag when he said the following on CBS's Face the Nation last Sunday:
"The dispute has been how to undo sequester. Republicans want to do it with entitlement cuts -- in other words, take entitlement cuts and then put that money into undoing at least part of sequester. Democrats want to do it with a mix of mandatory cuts, some entitlement [cuts], and revenues. And so how do you overcome that dilemma? We're not going to overcome it in the next day or two. But if we were to open up the government for a period of time that concluded before the sequester took place, which is January 15th, we could have a whole bunch of discussions. And I am more optimistic than most we could come to an agreement. That was one place where the House Republicans and the president were not, you know, at total loggerheads.[…]"
So the plan would be open up the government immediately for a period of time before the sequester hits and then have serious discussions where we might be able to undo the sequester. I'm optimistic that could work. Sen. Schumer's optimism should be of concern to all of us who want to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
We already have seen the president propose benefit cuts for these vital social insurance programs in previous budgets.
While the Republicans have previously rejected the president's offers due to their zealous opposition to new taxes on the wealthy or large corporations and the president's insistence on new sources of revenue in any grand bargain, we can't count on the Republicans to continue refusing to take yes for an answer. So if we allow the Democrats to continue proposing the same bad deals they have offered in the past, we could end up seeing the Democrats win this battle only to lose the larger war.
Ultimately we need to be ready to hold Democrats accountable for standing strong in the major battles that are soon to come over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
Thank you for your activism.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets