Sunday, July 31, 2011

Progressives Recoil At Reported Debt Ceiling Deal

Progressive groups are speaking out against the debt ceiling deal currently being hashed out in Washington. The response from two of the nation's largest organizations goes essentially like this: really?!?

Progressives are more than a little upset that the deal does not include taxing the rich, a line in the sand Pres. Obama drew early on.

They're casting the deal outlined on the Sunday morning talk shows as a huge win for Republicans -- and (yet another) agonizing defeat for the middle class.

"Seeing a Democratic president take taxing the rich off the table and instead push a deal that will lead to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefit cuts is like entering a bizarre parallel universe," said Stephanie Talyor, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "One with horrific consequences for middle-class families."

In cutting a deal with Congressional Republicans that places Democratic legacy programs—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—at risk while cutting essential programs for working families, Obama and Democratic leaders in the Senate have moved to the right of the American people and opened Democrats running in 2012 to counter Republican messaging that it was Democrats who cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and essential programs for working families. [That strategy worked for Republicans in 2010 and they are counting on that strategy to work again in 2012.]

Fox News contributor Bill Kristol said Sunday that by not overselling the debt deal, Republicans could later use it to win the White House.

“So, I think Republicans should probably take the deal that is being negotiated today, but they should not make it seem as if this is some great victory. They need to say, we need a different president in 2013.”
If you are moved to express your opinion to Pres. Obama or your Senator or Representative in Congress, here is some useful information:

The PCCC called on Democrats to reject the deal.

"The middle class has sacrificed enough," she said. "We need jobs, not cuts, to get the economy moving again." shared in the criticism, and called on the White House to renegotiate in favor of a deal that gives Obama's base something to hang their hat on.

"We urge the White House and all in Congress to keep negotiating for a deal that protects Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid and asks millionaires to pay their fair share," said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn, "not a deal that creates a back-door way to gut these vital programs."

Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) isn’t a fan of the proposed deal to raise the debt ceiling. Cleaver told Roll Call Sunday that the deal was a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”

“You have been quoted, coming out of your caucus as calling this agreement a ‘sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” MSNBC’s Chris Jansing noted Sunday. “Was that indeed your quote? Is that how you feel about this deal?”

“Very accurate quote,” Cleaver admitted. “What you see is antithetical to everything the religions of the world teach: take care of the poor, take care of the aged. Look at the phone calls I’ve gotten. They are seven-to-one in favor of a balanced deal, and also preserving Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. And I’m concerned about this because we don’t know the details. And until we see the details, we are going to be extremely non-committed.”

The Congressional Black Caucus released a letter Sunday urging President Barack Obama instead of making a deal with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling [to the debt limit through an "executive order" by invoking the 14th Amendment, which mandates the government to pay its debts already incurred, including pensions. That means Social Security, which IS an "entitlement," in the original sense of the word. We're entitled to it because we've paid for it with taxes. ]

"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said in an fiery statement, "and I will not support it."

A bevy of legal scholars are recommending that the issue be eliminated altogether by playing the constitutional trump card. The 14th Amendment provides at Section 4:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

Where statute and the Constitution collide, the Constitution prevails. Whether the government should pay the bills it has already incurred is not a matter of negotiation. It is a constitutional mandate. And those are the bills we are talking about here, as President Obama stressed in his remarks on the issue last Friday. He said:

Raising the debt ceiling simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. I want to emphasize that. The debt ceiling does not determine how much more money we can spend, it simply authorizes us to pay the bills we already have racked up. It gives the United States of America the ability to keep its word.

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