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Chuck Schumer
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
It's a start, I guess. This is the first time a member of the Democratic Senate leadership has advised Democrats to break from the Catfood Commission chairs' recommendations. Unfortunately, it's not on the proposals in Bowles-Simpson to cut Social Security benefits, but on the tax plan to overhaul the tax code in order to give big cuts to top earners.
In a speech to the National Press Club, Mr. Schumer said he rejected the idea of a tax code overhaul as “little more than happy talk.” Taxes, he said, could not be changed to bring in more revenue, lower the top tax rates and still protect the middle class from tax increases.

Instead, he said that the top two income tax rates should be frozen, and any additional revenues generated by closing loopholes and curtailing or eliminating tax deductions and credits should be devoted to deficit reduction.

“It is an alluring prospect to cut taxes on the wealthiest people and somehow still reduce the deficit, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” Mr. Schumer said. “The reality is, any path forward on tax reform that promised to cut rates will end up either failing to reduce the deficit or failing to protect the middle class from a net tax increase.” [...]

Republicans, Mr. Schumer said, will have to be lured to the negotiating table not by the prospect of lowering top income tax rates but overhauling entitlements, like Medicare andSocial Security.

All-righty, then. Here's a lame-duck session to look forward to, with Democrats already offering up the sacrificial lambs of Medicare and Social Security to the deficit, even before the voting—much of it hinging on protecting Medicare—even begins. What's more, the revenue raised by loophole closing should be reinvested in job creation, or has he forgotten about jobs, jobs, jobs?

Schumer's timing with this message, while helpful in pointing out that the Romney/Ryan tax plan is a sham, stinks. As the White House is still trying to do damage control over Obama's Social Security gaffe in the debate, the uneasy sense that Medicare and Social Security have become little more than bargaining chips for Democrats is settling in, and Schumer just confirmed it.

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have the opportunity to take entitlements right back off the table, starting with the VP debate this Thursday.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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