Yesterday, Senate Democrats released their plan to avert the sequester for the rest of the year — it contains $110 billion in deficit reduction, evenly divided between spending cuts and new revenues. The new revenues are derived from a 30 percent minimum tax on income over $1 million; the spending savings are a mix of defense and farm subsidy cuts. There are no cuts to entitlement benefits: No rise in the Medicare eligibility age; no “Chained CPI” for Social Security.
However, many liberals and Democrats remain worried that in the end, the White House and Dem leaders will ultimately give ground on entitlement benefits to reach a deal. So today, over 100 House Democrats will release a letter calling on Obama to hold firm and not agree to any cuts to Medicare or Social Security benefits. From the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jan Schakowsky:
We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits in any final bill to replace sequestration. Earned Social Security and Medicare benefits provide the financial and health protections necessary to keep individuals and families out of poverty. Medicaid is not only a lifeline for low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and families, it is the primary source of long-term care services and supports for 3.6 million individuals. We cannot overstate their importance for our constituents and our country.
That is why we remain deeply opposed to proposals to reduce Social Security benefits through use of the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments. We remain committed to making the changes that will extend solvency for 75 years, but Social Security has not contributed to our current fiscal problems and it should not be on the bargaining table.
Similarly, we oppose proposals to increase Medicare cost-sharing requirements or to raise the age of eligibility. […] A commitment to keeping the middle-class strong and reducing poverty requires a commitment to keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid strong. We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits, and we look forward to working with you to enact approaches that instead rely on economic growth and more fair revenue-raising policies to solve our fiscal problems.
The White House has already taken the Medicare eligiblity age hike off the table, but Chained CPI, a fancy way of describing what is in fact a real cut in benefits, does appear to be in the mix. And so, in addition to these House Democrats, other progressive groups, such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and CREDO Action, are mobilizing against any such cut.