It's also not smart politics, when Democrats are winning the debate in keeping Medicare, in particular, strong. The Republicans remain committed to privatizing Medicare and turning it into a voucher program that would cost seniors more out of pocket. And it would allow Republicans to repeat their 2010 play—running to the left of Democrats on Medicare.
It's not just Medicare, however, that Hoyer would have in his "grand bargain" sights. Cuts to Social Security and Medicaid would assuredly be on his bargaining table. He's already suggested raising the retirement age to 70.
When pressed by progressive groups to clarify that he will not target important safety net programs in his new austerity grand bargain, Hoyer's office gave TPM this milquetoast statement:
“Mr. Hoyer was clear that we need to take action on long-term deficit reduction to avoid the crippling effects that sequestration will have on domestic programs—including Medicare—starting next year,” says his communications director Katie Grant. “We should do so in a balanced way that includes significant new revenues, ensuring that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share so that we can continue to invest in the programs that help the most vulnerable among us.”Note the refusal to say that he intends to protect those programs from his deficit cutting. Hoyer needs to follow the lead of President Obama, and leave the austerity talk behind. And that includes his efforts for a grand bargain. A grand bargain, by the way, that he wants to push through in the lameduck session, after the elections. That just makes the whole proposal far more cynical and dangerous—the idea that it will be done after the American people has the opportunity to weigh in with their votes. It's the typical behind-closed-doors ploy politicians like Hoyer love.