"If we can demonstrate that it doesn’t hurt the poor and the very elderly, then let's take a look at it. Because compared to what?,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “Compared to Republicans saying Medicare should wither on the vine? Social Security has no place in a free society?”We've been through this "protect the most vulnerable" business before on the issue of the chained CPI, and the question remains, how do you define that? By the time you exempt all of the people who should be kept safe from this cut, the savings would be trivial to the pain caused. Which sounds an awful lot like a meaningless trophy for the Republicans. Pelosi could just be showing that Democrats are reasonable compared to Republicans, blah, blah, blah, blah. But she's also undercutting what has been key rhetoric for Democrats in all of these budget fights: we won't reduce the deficit on the backs of poor/elderly/middle class/working Americans. So why even go near breaking that promise? That's what liberals in the House are asking, too. Here's Rep. Keith Ellison talking to Greg Sargent.
Citing a Kaiser Foundation analysis indicating that raising Medicare's eligibility age would cost the government money, Pelosi said such a move is simply "trophy-taking."
“It's just a scalp,” she said. “It doesn't save money.”
“Why are we doing this?” Dem Rep. Keith Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said to me in an interview today. Asked which is worse, continued sequestration or a grand bargain that cuts entitlement benefits, Ellison said: “It’s like saying, `Which of your kids do you want to sacrifice to the monster?’ Neither one.” [...]Ellison has got more than 100 House Democrats with him, who have signed pledge to President Obama to oppose any of these cuts. They need to cc Pelosi on that letter, and perhaps to remind her that her path to regaining the speakership lies in not pissing away the core Democratic base.
“Once we do that we’re already in the territory of bargaining away Chained CPI,” Ellison said. “We’re already saying we’re open to negotiating on Chained CPI. And we’re not.” [...] Ellison pointed out that Republicans aren’t as quick as Dems to signal a willingness to trade away core priorities at the outset. “Republicans don’t do that,” he said.