Assistant Democratic leader, Rep. James Clyburn said in an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt that benefit cuts to Medicare are not on the table in the bipartisan congressional negotiations led by Vice President Biden. Greg Sargent writes about it:
"We are not going to reduce benefits at all," Clyburn said, when pressed on what he was willing to agree to on Medicare. He insisted that the Medicare reforms in the Affordable Care Act should be looked at as a template for moving forward.
"I would ask everybody to take a hard look at what we did last year," Clyburn said. "Over a 10-year period, what we did could be sufficient going forward."
It's hard to know what to make of this. It's unclear whether Clyburn is merely reciting the hard-line position of House Dems, or whether he's articulating the position that Democrats, the White House and Senate Dems included, have unified behind. But if it's the latter, that would square with Nancy Pelosi's recent claim that the talks are moving in a positive direction for those who oppose any benefits cuts.
At the beginning of May, Clyburn said that "entitlement reform should be on the table in the talks," though he was opposed to turning Medicare into a voucher system. Hopefully this more recent interview does reflect the position of Democrats today.
Clyburn also said in the Bloomberg interview that "any agreement with Republicans 'absolutely' must include provisions to raise more revenue, even if it also cuts corporate tax rates."
We cannot get an agreement without revenues” being raised, and absent that “I don’t think we can get to what our goals are,” Clyburn said....
Republicans, of course, are insisting that debt ceiling won't be raised without serious cuts to Medicare. Boehner has also insisted that they will not consider tax increases.
In this standoff, Democrats have all the public opinion on their side. They need to do more of what Clyburn did in this interview, hold the line on benefit cuts and on raising taxes.