Saturday, October 26, 2013
THE FIGHT TO SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICAID AND MEDICARE
Here’s what you need to know about the group, which the country will have a close eye on during the next couple of months:
1. It has 29 members. The bipartisan, bicameral group includes the entire Senate Budget Committee, as well as four House Republicans and three House Democrats. Here’s the full list:
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.)
Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)
Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)
From Senate Democratic Caucus:
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.)
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.)
Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Angus King (Maine)
2. Nine of the Republicans voted against Wednesday's deficit reduction deal compromise, including Ryan. Of that deal the co-chairs of the bipartisan special joint committee said in a statement that "after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline."
Not everybody on the committee supported Wednesday’s compromise. Ryan’s vote was the most interesting. He bucked his leadership allies to vote “no.” There are a couple of plausible reasons for his decision.
One is the weight he carries among House conservatives. They are very loyal to Ryan, and by standing with them on the vote, Ryan didn’t sacrifice any of his credibility. Instead, headed into the talks, he telegraphed a sort of I’ve-got-your-back message. Second, he’s the lead negotiator in this group. Stepping into talks fresh off voting for a bill that was tough for many Republicans to swallow, they weren't exactly coming from a position of strength.
The other eight Republicans who voted against the bill were Price, Black, Sessions, Grassley, Enzi, Crapo, Toomey, and Johnson.
This group is worth keeping in mind because they are the most conservative members of the panel. To take the pulse of how conservatives feel about emerging deals or sticking points, listen to what these lawmakers are saying.
3. Policy-wise, there is a lot of daylight between Murray and Ryan right now. Murray summed it up this way Thursday morning: “Chairman Ryan knows I’m not going to vote for his budget. I know that he’s not going to vote for mine. We’re going to find the two common — the common ground between our two budgets that we both can vote on. And that’s our goal.”
4. Get used to hearing “sequester,” “entitlements” and “revenues” a lot. A big part of the talks will be deciding what to do about the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Democrats don’t like them and Republicans like Ryan say there is a better way to cut spending. So how to replace them? Well, that’s where we are going to see disagreements. Look for Republicans to call for replacement cuts in entitlements spending. Democrats might be able to accept such cuts, but under that scenario would probably push for new tax revenue to offset them. Republicans won’t like this idea. This much we know: With a new round of sequester cuts set to kick in early next year, the clock is ticking.
5. It’s a “supercommittee” reunion of sorts. Murray, Van Hollen, Portman and Clyburn were all part of the 2011 deficit-reduction “supercommittee” that failed to reach an agreement. Will things turn out differently? Murray thinks so.
“The supercommittee goals were much broader, much larger. We have a challenge that’s been handed us to have a reconciliation between the Senate budget and the House budget, and those issues are all on the table. We’ll be talking about all of them. And our job is to make sure that we have put forward a spending cap and a budget path for this Congress in the next year or two or further if we can,” she said Thursday.
To my way of thinking, here are very few members of this committee who have any concern about poor and middle class Americans. However, the one strong voice on our behalf is Senator Bernie Sanders.
Today, Senator Sanders put out a plea for all of us to make our voices heard by this "super committee". In an e mail Sanders states:
They’re at it again.
Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Pete Peterson, Stanley Druckenmiller and others are leading the charge to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
If they succeed, millions of senior citizens, working families, disabled veterans and children will suffer. We must not allow that to happen.
Today, the middle class is disappearing, real unemployment is extremely high, poverty is increasing and working families throughout the country are struggling to keep their heads above water economically. Meanwhile, the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider and the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well.
WE MUST NOT BALANCE THE BUDGET ON THE BACKS OF WORKING FAMILIES, THE ELDERLY, THE CHILDREN, THE SICK AND THE POOR.
As Vermont’s senator, I have the honor of serving on the Budget Conference Committee which will be negotiating a new federal budget over the next few months -- and where I am fearful that a deal could be struck to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, please stand with me and our coalition partners in demanding; “No grand bargain in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Let’s be clear. Despite right-wing rhetoric:
Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible person for the next 20 years.
Social Security has not contributed to the deficit. Social Security is funded independently by FICA taxes which are paid by workers and their employers.
The so-called chained-CPI, which recalculates how COLA’s are formulated, is not a “modest tweak.” If the chained CPI went into effect today, a senior aged 65 would receive $658 a year less in Social Security benefits when he/she is 75, and $1,100 a year less at age 85. Further, the average disabled veteran would lose tens of thousands of dollars in benefits over his/her lifetime.
Please stand with me today and demand that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
When one out of four U.S. corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes; when Bush’s tax breaks for the rich remain in place for many wealthy Americans; when the U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, there are much fairer and economically sound ways to address the budget than cutting programs desperately needed by the most vulnerable people in our country.
Please stand with me and our coalition partners in protecting the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Let’s go forward together. Thanks for your continued support.
Senator Bernie Sanders
It is truly imperative for each of us to contact each and every representative and senator listed above. You can do this by going to this link:
Don't wait! There is only a short time to make our position known!