Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement to Civil Beat, “Every week, we hear about corporations that cut the pensions they promised to workers. As a result, Social Security has never been more important. Senator Harkin’s bill, which Senator Brian Schatz was among the first to support, will expand Social Security benefits for our grandparents and veterans. And by requiring the wealthy to pay the same rate into Social Security as the rest of us, Harkin and Schatz would pay for the benefit increase and have trillions left over to keep Social Security strong for decades.” Last week, the group pushed the idea at rallies in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas.
THE MILWAUKEE-WISCONSIN JOURNAL SENTINEL: Liberals pressure Gwen Moore to pledge to oppose all cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid benefits
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal political action committee, is asking its supporters to call U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) and urge her to sign the so-called Grayson-Takano letter.
“Representative Gwen Moore has not yet signed the letter, and she is hurting the ability of progressive leaders to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits,” the email to supporters says.
The letter, to be sent to President Barack Obama, is signed by 39 Democratic House members, including Alan Grayson of Florida and Mark Takano of California.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are two grassroots progressive groups threatening to back a primary challenge to any Democrat who votes to use the chained CPI measure. “If people don’t represent their constituents back home and pursue an agenda of cutting Social Security benefits,… then, yeah, there needs to be accountability in 2014, and we’re very serious,” said PCCC cofounder Adam Green. He added that his group has already taken the first step by asking people who signed the petition if they would be willing to run for Congress to defend entitlements. More than 1,300 members said yes, he said.
Groups attacking Obama over the proposed cuts are the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America. AARP, a powerful group representing seniors, is also campaigning against Obama’s proposed Social Security cuts.
Some liberals want to mount primary challenges against Democratic legislators who support the entitlement reductions. This tactic of challenging incumbents in party primaries is a favorite of the political right, and it has caused some Republican legislators to toe the conservative line rather than face an intraparty challenge. This is the dynamic that activists on the left are now threatening.
US Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Mark Takano, Congressman Mark Pocan, Congressman Rick Nolan and leaders of organizations that oppose President Obama’s anticipated assault on Social Security went to the White House Tuesday to present petitions signed by 2.3-million Americans who reject the president’s proposal for “chained-CPI.”
The “chained-CPI” scheme would restructure cost-of-living adjustments in a way that cuts Social Security benefits for millions of seniors and veterans.
Sanders has vowed to “do everything in my power to block President Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients through a chained consumer price index.”
And he’s got allies. Joining the senator and the House members at the White House were representatives of Social Security Works, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Organization for Women, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, the Campaign for America’s Future and MoveOn.org.
When the White House released its budget today, it was clear the president hadn’t listened to the increasingly urgent threats and pleadings from the people who helped elect him, as his spending proposal includes a change to the way Social Security benefits are calculated, called the chained CPI, as well as changes to Medicare. The cut is anathema to liberal activists and lawmakers, who have gone all in to oppose the cut, warning Obama would face a “huge backlash” from his own base if he endorsed it. Now they’re threatening primary challenges against any Democrats who vote for their president’s budget. “You can’t call yourself a Democrat and support Social Security benefit cuts,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group which endorses liberals in primaries, sometimes against establishment picks.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) on a conference call Wednesday, reiterated his strong opposition to any proposed cuts in benefits to Social Security, Medicare and Medicare, saying he is happy to let President Obama know that he “won’t use his vote to hurt the needy.”
Grayson, who was joined by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), along with nearly 1,000 media and activists from across the country, has garnered the signatures of 27 members of Congress on a “No Cuts” letter that rejects any cuts in benefits to the social safety nets…
Today’s conference call was organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and chaired by its co-founder Adam Green who said that, over 200,000 supporters had already signed the “No Cuts” letter, “a true testament to grass-roots energy around this issue.”
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES: Sequester Cuts: Democratic House Members Tell Obama They Will Block Efforts To Cut Medicare, Social Security
Everything from public education to child care subsidies and aviation safety could be on the chopping block. But a group of more than 20 Democrats are petitioning Obama in the hopes of ensuring the nation’s most critical social-safety-net programs will not be subject to budget cuts.
“Democrats have built the most popular government programs in American history — including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — by working with Republicans whenever possible and by defeating Republican opposition whenever necessary. The torch has been passed to today’s elected officials, and we must carry it forward boldly,” states the letter, authored by Reps. Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Mark Takano (Calif.).
In advance of any upcoming budget deal, progressive groups have begun pushing House Democrats to sign a letter to President Obama indicating that they will not back anything that cuts entitlement benefits. As of Wednesday, the letter, originally written by progressive Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Mark Takano (D-CA), had 10 additional signers.
The coalition pushing the letter, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org and Credo Action, announced it also added two unions, the National Nurses Union and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, to the list.
The groups said 110,000 supporters had also signed the letter within 24 hours of it being put online and supporters have placed more than 4,000 calls to members of Congress.
HUFFINGTON POST: As Sequester Threatens Entitlement Programs, Progressive Coalition Warns Democrats Against Cuts
As Congress continues to debate a possible replacement to the $1.2 trillion in sequestration-related cuts set to kick in on March 1, a coalition of progressive organizations on Wednesday launched an effort urging Democratic lawmakers to reject to any deal that entails cuts to benefits from popular entitlement programs.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, MoveOn, CREDO Action, Rebuild The Dream, the New York-based Working Families Party and Social Security Work are endorsing a letter to President Barack Obama, signed by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), warning against cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
Progressive activists fired a shot across the bow of congressional Democrats on Wednesday, warning them to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or face a primary challenge. Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said Democrats would face a “nuclear war on the left” if they supported cuts to the safety net programs. “We will probably have a fractured party for the next two years” if Democrats cave to Republican demands, Green said on CSPAN, “which would be to the detriment of this president and very unfortunate. There will absolutely be Democratic primaries in the next round of congressional elections. We would probably start right away recruiting challengers.”
Adam Green talked about the work of his Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and the organization’s agenda for the 113th Congress.*He also outlined what progressives would like to see from President Obama in his second term.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is urging Democrats to hold their “bright line position” on taxes and entitlements ahead of a meeting Friday in which President Obama will reportedly offer congressional leaders a scaled-back deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the chained CPI plan is “unacceptable.” A labor source called it “insanity.” As Matt Yglesias pointed out this morning, the chained CPI is also unpopular, with 60 percent opposed to “changing Social Security to increase at a slower rate” and only 34 percent in favor.
A coalition of liberal groups this week delivered petitions with more than 21,000 names to Villaraigosa’s office, demanding that he resign from the Campaign to Fix the Debt, which those on the left consider to be a right-wing plot to slash Social Security, Medicare and other social service and support programs, and protect the wealthy against tax increases. Move.on, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the California-based Courage Campaign are joining forces to pressure Villaraigosa, as detailed in this item on the Calitics website.
You’d think that Goldman Sachs — the mega-bank that took $10 billion of taxpayer money — would show a little bit of humility in the wake of the financial crisis. You’d be wrong.
In an interview with CBS News, Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman CEO who famously said he was doing “God’s work,” said that Social Security benefits must be cut by raising the retirement age and Medicare and Medicaid must be “contained” as well:
PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?
BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can’t afford them going forward?
BLANKFEIN: Because we can’t afford them.
Let’s get something clear. Blankfein made these comments in the context of what should happen in budget negotiations related to the debt. Social Security does not add one penny to the deficit. And it’s fully solvent until 2033 — it would be fully solvent well into the 22nd century if we simply lifted the payroll tax cap.
Instead of letting banking tycoons guide our public policy,we should look instead to Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (who Goldman Sachs spent big to try to defeat in the recent election).
Warren has an alternative, truly balanced approach to tackling the deficit. During a campaign debate last month, she laid out a popular, credible vision for dealing with the deficit: cut back on wasteful military and agriculture subsidy spending, and make …
Deficit fever has gripped Washington, and a number of special interest groups and right-wing lawmakers are demanding that Congress dramatically cut government investment in the economy, even if it harms job growth.
350 economists have signed an open letter saying that we should invest in our economy and grow our way out of the deficit — not enact austerity programs that would cost us jobs:
The government should invest in areas vital to our economy — to repair crumbling infrastructure, to build 21st-century smart-grid, public transportation and renewable energy systems, and to create public and private sector jobs. We should also help states prevent layoffs of teachers and other public servants, make early care and higher education more affordable, and create public service jobs throughout the nation. It can do so by borrowing at record low interest rates. We can also stimulate recovery without increasing deficits by increasing taxes on the wealthy and pumping the proceeds directly into the economy. [...] We need jobs first. With recovery, deficit reduction will come of its own accord thanks to increased revenues in an improving economy. That was the case in the three decades after World War II — when the debt to GDP ratio declined from over 120 percent of GDP in 1945 to under 30 percent by 1978.
For the full letter and the list of economists who signed it, click here.
We don’t have to guess what austerity would do to our economy — we have real-world experiment. Austerity in Europe has led to skyrocketing unemployment, and workers across the continent are on strike to reverse these policies.
We shouldn’t face the same fate.
Right-wing politicians and their corporate lobbyist backers want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of an upcoming “Grand Bargain.” Their goal is to cut social spending and investments in middle class America to pay for corporate tax cuts and more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
But it’s impossible to talk about the budget deficit without talking about the military budget. It has the largest share of discretionary spending, and we spend more on our military than almost the rest of the world combined.
Even Senator Tom Coburn — a hard-right Republican from Oklahoma — knows that much of this Pentagon spending is wasteful and completely unrelated to our modern security needs. He released a report a few days ago that laid out some of this wasteful spending. Here are a few highlights, from the Washington Times:
• $300,000 spent by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to fund Brown University’s research into archaeopteryx, the 150-million-year-old early bird, in which the researchers determined the creature likely had black feathers.
• An Office of Naval Research research project that helped spawn Caffeine Zone 2, an iPhone application that tells people how to schedule their coffee breaks.
• $1.5 million to develop a special new roll-up beef jerky, which Mr. Coburn said was funded by taking money out of a weapons program.
• $100,000 for a 2011 workshop on interstellar space travel that included a session entitled “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” The session probed how Christian theology would apply in the event of the discovery of aliens.
We can’t talk about the budget deficit without looking at the wasteful Pentagon budget.
Last night, Grayson appeared on The Young Turks and pushed back on demands from corporate-backed groups like the Campaign To Fix The Debt that Congress cut Social Security or Medicare benefits as part of a “Grand Bargain.”
“The Democratic Party should be united,” said Grayson. “We are the party that created Social Security. We are the party that created Medicare. We should stand behind it, and we should protect it. It’s amazingly popular among the voters. Why should we shoot ourselves in the head by saying we’re going to end these programs, or even cut back these programs, when we created them, and the voters love them?”
Remember that it was thanks to the efforts of Progressive Change Campaign Committee members — we made 216,577 calls for him and raised $56,684 from 5,429 donations — that Grayson will be returning to Congress.
The Wall Street Journal CEO Council is an event that brings together elite corporate leaders, journalists, and politicians. It is usually only lightly covered by the media, so the public ends up not seeing much of what goes on.
We’ve obtained a transcript of the event’s dinner meeting that took place earlier this week. At the meeting, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), making conversation with former Senate Minority Leader and current corporate lobbyist Trent Lott, suggests that President Obama should “courageously” cut Medicare by raising the eligibility age in order to combat the deficit:
LIEBERMAN: I’d say that sometime soon– both privately to Speaker Boehner and — and also publicly, he — he should– make clear that he’s prepared– to– to change some of — Medicare status quo. [...] But I think the President will have to make clear he’ll either support some– well, for instance, in– beginning to increase the age of eligibility. [...] Incidentally, increasing the age of eligibility to be more close (LAUGH) to the actual age at which people are living, as opposed to the age– that they were living in 1965, when Medicare was adopted, the average age It’s now closing in on 80 — saves a lotta money– every year. The president has to show the public, and the Republicans, who he’s asking to support higher revenue, or tax reform, that he’s prepared and Democrats are prepared to deal– courageously with– entitlements.
To be clear — Americans as a whole are not living longer. White-collar workers are, but blue-collar workers have barely seen any increase in life expectancy.
Raising the Medicare age “to 67 would cause an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket health insurance costs for beneficiaries who would have been otherwise covered by Medicare.”
What could Lieberman’s …
In an interview with the Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad said that it would be “fair and balanced” to raise the Medicare age, which would require a huge cut in benefits to American seniors:
KHIMM: Obama has already suggested raising the retirement age for Medicare. Should that be the starting point for thinking about entitlement savings?
I wouldn’t want that to be the starting point, but as part of an overall package, that’s balanced and fair. Given that we now have exchanges to purchase insurance because of the president’s health-care reform law, it makes it much more acceptable, much more reasonable, over a long period of time to gradually increase the age given that people are living so much longer.
As ThinkProgress’s Igor Volsky writes, raising the Medicare age would create an enormous burden on seniors:
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, raising the eligibility age to 67 would cause an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket health insurance costs for beneficiaries who would have been otherwise covered by Medicare. Seniors in Medicare Part B would also face a 3 percent premium increase, the study found, since younger and healthier enrollees would be routed out of Medicare and into private insurance. Beneficiaries in health care reform’s exchanges would see a similar spike in premiums with the addition of the older population.
Medicare isn’t the driver of our budget deficits — two wars, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and Wall Street’s recession are responsible for most of our debt. It’s simply unfair to ask American seniors to pay for a problem they did not cause.
Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has an alternative, truly “balanced” approach. During a campaign debate last month, she laid out a popular, credible …
A number of right-wing politicians and corporate CEOs are demanding that Congress and the President agree to cuts to Social Security along with reductions in the corporate tax rate as part of a “Grand Bargain.”
These conservatives who are making this demand should heed the words of their icon, former President Ronald Reagan. In the 1984 presidential debate, Reagan — the most right-wing president in his generation — debunked the lie that Social Security adds to the debt:
REAGAN: Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once in for all…Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.
If only John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and other Social Security foes would heed the words of this Republican they so often praise.
Want to help fight for a progressive approach to the deficit that doesn’t involve cutting Social Security?
Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 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:
Earlier today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) — who serves as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee — appeared on MNSBC to discuss upcoming budget negotiations. After being probed by the television anchor about cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits, Wasserman Schultz said that “what we don’t need to do, I can tell you, is cut benefits”:
TAMRON HALL: How much leeway will the left give the president regarding entitlement reform? He met with union leaders yesterday. they have the president’s back at this point but where does the balance come from?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, it is going to be difficult and challenging, but anything worth doing is worth doing well and together. You know, we have shown repeatedly that when the two parties come together like Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan on Social Security reform we can add years of solvency and to medicare and do it and increase benefits like with Obamacare and we need both sides to be willing. I know the Democrats are willing. President Obama’s willing to sit down at the table. What we don’t need to do, I can tell you, is cut benefits. That’s something that I don’t think is the first thing that should be put forward. We have a lot of opportunity to continue to make reforms in medicare, make sure we build in more efficiencies to the program so we can add the years of solvency.
TAMRON HALL: What about eligibility age change?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, eligibility age change would fall in the realm of benefit cuts. We need to focus like I said first on making sure we build in more efficiencies to the program. we have been able to from Obama care make sure that with that $716 billion in savings plowed in to waste, fraud and abuse – fighting waste, fraud and abuse we have collected more than $10 billion in fraudulent medicare payments and we can make more progress in that area, as well.
Wasserman Schultz’s opposition to benefits cuts …
As part of an event with the Wall Street Journal and corporate leaders, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) — a leading Democrat and ranking member of the House Budget Committee — indicated that he thinks cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits should be part of the upcoming deficit negotiations:
On Capitol Hill, it isn’t clear how strenuously Democrats will resist cutting entitlements. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said he and others were open to changes as long as they were done in a measured way and were part of deal that included tax increases. Mr. Van Hollen also said changing Social Security and increasing the Medicare eligibility age above 65 should be part of negotiations.
“I’m willing to consider all of these ideas as part of an overall plan,” Mr. Van Hollen said Tuesday at the Journal’s CEO Council.
American voters were very clear during last week’s election: they do not want any cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits (and keep in mind Social Security adds nothing to the deficit, anyway).