Skip to comments.The Democrats' Coming Civil War: Dems poised for a showdown over Social Security and Medicare.
Posted on 01/03/2013 7:26:52 AM PST by SeekAndFind
For Democrats, there may be few things more entertaining than watching the Republican Party self-destruct and fight with itself these last few weeks. But it may be time to put away the party favors because a Democratic internal war may be on the way.
Just as Republicans were so divided over taxes from failing to pass their own Plan B bill last week, to their leaders splitting votes on last nights legislative package Democrats are about to endure an emotional debate about one of their own bedrock principles: the protection of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
With the accord reached last night failing to address these programs, Republicans have said theyll threaten to deny a debt ceiling increase in February which would prevent the government from paying its bills, exacting a government shutdown and global economic consequences in the process as leverage to advance their policy interests. In addition, with sequestration cuts set to hit in two months, theres an additional, built-in point of negotiation between the parties.
The biggest reform Republicans have vowed to push for in these upcoming standoffs is so-called entitlement reform, a.k.a. deficit reduction, a.k.a., cutting social insurance and benefits for those in need. The problem for Democrats: No one in the party agrees on how to address the issue.
The White House has repeatedly expressed a willingness even an interest in reducing the deficit through cuts to these programs. In his recent negotiations with Republican House Speaker John Boehner, the President floated cutting benefits to Social Security through a new cost of living index called chained CPI that would essentially revise down the governments estimates of how much seniors need to cover their expenses. The result, of course, would be reduced benefits.
Moreover, last night the President was clear in his openness to discussing changes to Medicare. As I've demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit, he told the nation, adding vaguely, I believe we've got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. And I believe that theres further unnecessary spending in government that we can eliminate.
But coming on the heels of a campaign that explicitly litigated the twin issues of tax fairness and protecting benefits for those in need, Obama finds himself with a growing, emboldened liberal wing of his party. And its as dead set against balancing the deficit on the backs of the neediest Americans, as House conservatives are to raising taxes.
Indeed, November 6 was not just a great night for the president; the liberal wing of the Democratic Party also scored impressive victories, sweeping Elizabeth Warren into the senate, Sherrod Brown to a significant reelection, and even Alan Grayson back to Congress.
This sets up, of course, Democrats own version of intra-party chaos, and it goes far beyond the typical grumbling and chest-thumping about Obamas negotiating skills or scoring political points. This is about bedrock principles. Soul of the party kind of stuff.
There are many ways to define and differentiate Democrats, but one critical way is on economic issues. On the one hand are the economic liberals, who believe in a government that protects those who need protecting and promises a social contract encouraging shared prosperity. This entails an ironclad commitment to earned benefits and social insurance programs, even if that might require increased tax revenues from the top income margins.
When it comes to these kinds of issues, liberals appear charged and ready to battle. In addition to folks like Warren recently gaining prominence, large droves of House Democrats recently took the somewhat unusual move of coming out against the presidents chained CPI proposal (although they did vote en masse for last nights measure, despite being less than enthusiastic). Leaders like Ohios Brown have organized petitions against cuts to Social Security and Medicare. And liberal groups have promised primaries against members supporting cuts like these.
On the other side are what might be called the SPECs, or Socially Progressive Economic Conservatives. These are the party members and leaders focused more on issues like reproductive health or marriage equality, and less guided by economic fairness credos like protecting the poor, elderly, and sick. Some may even pride themselves on austerity, by capping property taxes while cutting public services, facing down unions representing working class Americans, and promoting what they call pro-business or pro-growth agendas.
Just as Republicans are now undergoing their own noisy, awkwardly public process to figure out what they stand for, Democrats may soon find out which part of their party prevails on economic issues. The answer could have serious ramifications regarding the kind of support many Americans receive from their government during a historic recession. And who the Democratic party selects to lead it, a few years down the road.
But before that happens, the next month or two may give way to a passionate debate that makes the internal strife the Republicans now face a bipartisan Washington phenomenon.
But ... but ... but ... we aren't IN a recession. Baraq's regime says so.
Al-Qaida is alive and GM is dead. Or something like that.
Why, yes, of course, the Democrats are really struggling with their strategy to cut benefits.
“Do we tell the press to say, ‘Blame the Republicans’, or, ‘The Republicans want to starve people’?” Real battle in the Democrat party over that.
Stopped reading at that point.
Government will grow in size. Spending will increase. There will be nothing like entitlement reform. The goal is to destroy the country, and they are dead serious about that. Only fools accept their lies and think that Democrats mean well.
Pay no attention the man behind the curtain.
Not one time in any of these discussions does anyone ever mention the vast amount of money that is wasted or stolen from all these government programs. Medicaid and Medicare fraud alone runs into the billions. This is like living in Wonderland where nothing is as it should be.
This would be a win-win-win-win for the Dems IMHO.
Baby Boomers who have been paying their FICA all these
years are going to go absolutely ape if anyone tries to change the program just as they are about to reap the benefits.
The payroll tax will eventually be extended to very high levels of income. Perhaps every last cent. There is simply no political will to address the problem in any other way.
At the very least Medicare should go to 67 to equal Social Security. It is kinda stupid to have them split. I know people are getting 1400 dollars social security which is not a heck of a lot of money when medicare is taken out and taxes. I really don’t know what besides a smaller COLA that they can do....make it 1000 as the max? It eventually becomes, “why bother to get it even though you put into it your whole life?” The 401K type accounts that people want instead of Social Security Checks would be ok unless you retired in 2008. However the stock market has recovered beautifully lately.
Unlike the Republicans...the Democrats ALWAYS circle their wagons and vote together. It is the principal source of their power.
If the cap were lifted entirely, it would essentially destroy the economy. The employers' matching contribution would hurt many businesses and take a huge amount of money out of the economy. And with about one out of every six Americans working for the government, it would raise the costs of government up as well. Since 1983 all new federal employees have had to join SS. And a sizeable percentage of them make more than 100K a year.
Huh? SS payments are going out now to recipients. They are not going to receive any increase in benefits.
If SS generates a "surplus" then the Treasury will issue a non-market interest bearing, T bill in the amount of the "surplus" and deposit it into the SSTF. The actual surplus would be deposited into the General Fund for use by Congress as it sees fit.
The idea that Government should determine how best to use the money rather than the private sector is a concept that any real conservative would oppose. It is nonsense to think that this is just a matter of whose ox is being gored. If businesses go under or have to fire employees because they cannot absorb these additional costs, how does that benefit anyone? And if employees must send more money to the government and cannot spend it locally or save it, how does this help anyone?
I feel superbly confident that, whatever they do, they will end up screwing my children and me even more than they already have.
I love the fact that the same bunch of A-Holes who are responsible for the financial mess we are in are now expected to do the right thing and fix the problem...only in America!
Amen to that.
“If the cap were lifted entirely, it would essentially destroy the economy...”
You DO realize that “destroying the economy” is of no consequence to those in power now, don’t you?
It’s all in the name of “fairness” and “economic justice” now. They probably WANT to “destroy” what they see as an old, outmoded economic system, to be replaced by something of their own designs.
It’s laughable that the “tax cuts” have been made “permanent”. Only until the next time the Obammunists demand “more”....
And right now, the Republican party, at least at the national level, seems to be doing a bang-up job of reducing itself into irrelevance...