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