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So, the next battle is about to start. Republicans are saying that they are done raising taxes and that the only thing that is left is to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
They are saying that they will hold use the debt ceiling to attempt to hold us hostage. They are also saying that they will use the sequester cuts to attempt to hold us hostage.
We must fight them tooth and nail on this.

More below the squiggle:

We only raised only a little over $600 Billion in revenue through tax rate increases on the wealthy. If the expect us to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in a bill that offers little to no revenue, they are badly mistaken. We should not agree to cut any of those programs at all. These programs are earned benefits that senior citizens have paid into all of their working lives. They protect the vulnerable. The vulnerable needs these programs to be able to live.

What cuts might the Senate accept ? They might accept chained CPI cuts to Social Security. This saves less than $200 Billion over a decade. Our annual deficit is $1 Trillion.
So, this hardly addresses the deficit. Social Security does not add a penny to the debt. No adjustments will need to be made for about 25 years. They might also accept raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, but that would be a tougher sell. However, the problems I have with that (1) it also saves less than $200 Billion over a decade (2) it will also hurt senior citizens (3) it does not really lower rising health care costs - it simply reduces how many people are covered. Therefore, neither of these options make any sense to me, regardless of what tax revenue increases the Republicans bring to the table. I do believe that it is very unlikely that Senate Democrats will agree to either of these cuts without some serious offer from the Republicans. I doubt that simply agreeing to raise the debt ceiling will be enough for Senate Democrats to agree to either or both of those measures. I think that Senate Democrats will require Republicans to raise tax revenue significantly in order to even consider either of those measures. However, we must make sure. Senate Democrats have the power to block both of these cuts. Forty one of them can filibuster any bill that contains these cuts. Reid can refuse to bring such a bill to the floor. Unfortunately, the President has made it clear that he will consider these cuts if the Republicans offer significant tax revenue in exchange for them. The key, then, is the Senate. We need to get 41 of them to promise to filibuster any cuts to the Big 3. Or we need 51 of them to promise to vote against any cuts to the Big 3.

Congress is the legislative body. The President will try to make a deal with McConnell. However, if Senate Democrats are unwilling to give in to these cuts, then the President will not be able to include them in a deal to McConnell. In that case, Republicans will not vote for any deal to avoid the sequester. Republicans will, in that case, then, allow us to shut down the government. Our Senate Democrats must be willing to allow the Republicans to shut down the government. They must refuse to cut the Big 3 in exchange for a new debt ceiling bill. If they do, then the President will not be able to give in to these cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.

So, we must call Majority Leader Reid and our particular Democratic Senators in the states in which we reside and ask them to agree to trade cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, whether it be raising the debt ceiling, or for more revenue. If we get 41 commitments by Democratic Senators to filibuster such cuts or 51 commitments by Democratic Senators to vote against such cuts, then it is over. We will face the sequester. We will see a government shut down. However, eventually, after the shutdown, Wall Street and public pressure will force the GOP to cave and agree to pass a new, clean bill raising the debt ceiling.

The President is saying that he will not negotiate for raising the debt ceiling. Let us make certain that he cannot. Let us protect the Big 3. Let us take that option off the table. The sequester and a government shut down is better than cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

So, please call Majority Leader Reid and your state's US Senators.
Do it now. Do it every day that they are available.

I will repost this when the new Congress is sworn in and perhaps sooner.

Senator Merkley sent out an email that said exactly what we want all of our Senators to commit to.

It reads:

In the early morning hours of New Year's Day, I joined 88 other Senators in voting in favor of the fiscal cliff deal. Here's why.

For millions of working families in Oregon and across the country, failure to pass the deal would have been an economic disaster. But I also want to make it clear that I am deeply concerned about the path that this deal sets us on.

Here's the good news: The fiscal cliff deal made sure that unemployment insurance continues to go to those working hard to find jobs.  And it made sure that income taxes would not go up on 98% of American families, and 97% of small businesses - while requiring wealthy families to chip in a bit more.  And we made sure that there would be zero cuts to the earned benefits - Medicare and Social Security - that protect a minimum standard of living for our seniors.

I do have concerns: Rather than resolving our fiscal crisis, this agreement simply delays tough decisions - setting our nation up for more political brinksmanship.  And there will be those who will take advantage of these fiscal challenges to continue their attacks on Social Security and Medicare.  But make no mistake: I will not agree to any future deal that puts the burden of fiscal solvency on our children, our aged, and our most vulnerable.  

America has been struggling with recession because of a decade of war and overseas nation-building, because we allowed Wall Street to gamble with our economy, because of big tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans, and because some radical Tea Party Republicans have been toying with the full faith and credit of the United States.

I am committed to bringing our troops home, making Wall Street accountable, restoring tax fairness, and standing up to those who would play games with the American economy. And I am committed to building a new foundation for a strong economy for the middle class.


Senator Jeff Merkley

Our goal, then, is to get all of our Democratic Senators to commit to this stance.
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Comment Preferences

  •  1 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    praenomen, PhilJD

    Actually, we just need one "vote": for President Obama to veto any such bill.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 02:59:41 PM PST

  •  And filibuster reform goes down the drain? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Dianne Feinstein on Chained CPI (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Vote4Obamain2012, Sunspots

    I just received a letter from Feinstein defending the use of a COLA based on Chained CPI.

    She justifies the move saying that the savings from implementing chained CPI will stay in the SS Trust Fund.

    Thank you for writing to express your opposition to using the chained CPI to calculate cost of living increases for Social Security recipients.  I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

    As you know, switching to the chained CPI has reportedly been discussed in recent deficit reduction negotiations.  Social Security currently determines cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).  This index simply measures the increase in the price of a wide range of commonly purchased items.

    A chained CPI attempts to account for the ways in which individuals are able to find lower-cost substitutes for items that become more expensive in a given year.  As a result, a chained CPI grows more slowly than traditional CPI measures.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), using the chained CPI to calculate COLAs for Social Security beneficiaries would save the program $112 billion from 2012 to 2021.  Under current law, any savings from implementing a chained CPI would be required to remain in the Social Security Trust Fund and could not be used by the federal government for other purposes.

    I will fight to protect the viability of Social Security for the over tens of millions of Americans who depend on benefits from it.  It is the only source of income for more than twenty percent of senior citizens and more than half rely on it to stay out of poverty.  To ensure these Americans continue to receive needed Social Security benefits, we must confront the reality that Social Security is currently projected to become insolvent by 2036. We must take steps to restore the solvency of social security so that future generations can rely on the retirement security provided by the program.

    Please know that I appreciate your comments, and I will keep them in mind should this proposal or one similar come before the Senate for consideration in the future.

    Again, thank you for writing.  Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.  Best regards.

    Sincerely yours,

      Dianne Feinstein
             United States Senator

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 03:17:13 PM PST

    •  Cat food commission, indeed! (6+ / 0-)
      A chained CPI attempts to account for the ways in which individuals are able to find lower-cost substitutes for items that become more expensive in a given year.
      ...for instance, as beef prices rise, low income individuals often are able to find lower-cost substitutes in the pet food aisle!

      There is another solution to all of this, calculated and offered by the Congressional Research Service:

      Option 2: Cover All Earnings and Pay Higher Benefits
      If the earnings base was completely eliminated for both employers and employees so that all earnings were taxed, 95% of the projected financial shortfall in the Social Security program would be eliminated. To achieve solvency for the full 75-year projection period under this option, the total payroll tax rate would have to be raised by an additional 0.1 percentage points (from 12.4% to 12.5%) or other policy changes would have to be made to cover the shortfall.

      Under this scenario high earners would pay higher taxes but also receive higher benefits. However, the net benefit to the Trust Funds is positive as $5 in additional revenue would provide only $1 in additional benefits (on average over their 75-year valuation period). Annual Social Security benefit payments would be much higher than today’s maximum of $25,440. A worker who paid taxes on earnings of $400,000 each year would get a benefit of approximately $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year—a replacement rate of 18%—while someone with lifetime earnings of $1 million a year would get a monthly Social Security benefit of approximately $13,500 a month or $162,000 a year—a replacement rate of 16.2%.


      it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

      by Addison on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 03:23:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mark Begich of Alaska proposed an awesome plan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vote4Obamain2012, JBraden, Sunspots

    that strengthens Social Security:

    When a Democrat from a red state like Alaska who's up for re-election proposes such a bold plan, you know he's serious.  Plus Alaska has a lot of senior citizens and Begich's plan has been endorsed by both the Strengthen Social Security Committee and the Alaskan AARP.

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 06:01:18 PM PST

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