Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has shocked progressives by joining the board of Fix The Debt, a group driven by corporate CEOs that seeks to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering the corporate tax rate. Over 12,000 people have signed a SignOn.org petition calling on Villaraigosa to reverse course and leave the organization.
Last night, Villaraigosa appeared on Huffington Post Live for an in-studio interview to discuss a variety of issues. Host Jacob Soboroff asked him about the controversy surrounding Fix The Debt, and the mayor responded by saying that he joined Fix The Debt to promote a "balanced approach" to the national debt:
VILLARAGOISA: "Isn't what's broken in Washington right now that Democrats wont talk to Republicans, Republicans won't talk to Democrats? There's this blind allegiance to ideology...I'm a progressive abashedly, but I'm also practical...It's true that a large number of people on Fix The Debt coalition are Republicans, and have supported Republicans...they also said we need a balanced approach, supported the Simpson Bowles plan as a balanced framework..I understand why some people would take umbrage particularly on the Democratic side and the progressive side but I'm not a university professor, I'm a mayor.
Watch it (the relevant section starts at 8:18):
There is simply nothing "balanced" about making the poor and middle class pay for a debt caused by the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, two wars, and Wall Street's recession.
Recall that the mayor supported and passed legislation in his own city to hike the retirement age for public employees. By supporting Fix The Debt's plan to cut Social Security benefits by hiking the retirement age, perhaps he simply is trying to nationalize his anti-worker policies.
We should look instead to Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren for a credible approach to dealing with the deficit over the long term.
Warren has an alternative, truly "balanced approach" to tackling the deficit. During a campaign debate last month, she laid out a popular vision for dealing with the deficit: cut back on wasteful military and agriculture subsidy spending, and make the rich pay their fair share with higher tax rates. Watch Warren explain: