Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Security and Medicare cuts threatened again

Signing of the Social Security Act.
It's my understanding that Ronald Reagan was the first to use the term "entitlements" in reference to Social Security and Medicare. Since then political leaders have chosen to use "entitlements" to cover their suggestions to gut programs to aid the poor and the elderly. Well, yes, Democrats toss the term around as well, including President Obama. Guess what? Those "entitlements" are on the precipice again as Congress considers a new budget.

In response to Zach Carter at the Huffington Post, yes, it's legitimate for the public to worry whether the Democrats will cave on Social Security and Medicare:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday opened the door to Social Security cuts as part of a budget deal with congressional Republicans. But Durbin pushed back against GOP calls for entitlement cuts as the negotiating price to curb or extinguish the economically damaging sequester cuts.
"If this is the bargain that the Republicans are now pushing for, that we have to cut Medicare to avoid cuts at the Department of Defense, they need to take a step back," Durbin said on "Fox News Sunday."
Congress is currently negotiating a new budget, with a December deadline. The talks were mandated by last week's deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown. 

Also speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) explicitly offered up trading some of the short-term cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act, known as the sequester, for long-term Social Security and Medicare cuts. He argued that Republicans had the tactical advantage on such an exchange.

"If you're in a divided government and you're arguing against the law, you're at a disadvantage," Blunt said, noting the failed GOP effort to defund Obamacare that resulted in a government shutdown. "The Budget Control Act is the only thing we've found that actually controls spending."

Blunt said that if Democrats aren't willing to negotiate over "entitlement savings versus some additional spending," to ease the sequester, then Democrats will have to live with the sequester cuts.

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