President Obama tried to use the bully pulpit to pressure Congressional leaders to wrest free of some of their ideological binds and come together to hammer out a long-term debt deal, warning both sides he would not accept a temporary 30- to 60-day stop-gap fix.
“I have been hearing from our Republican friends that it’s a moral imperative for us to tackle our debates and deficits in a serious way,” Obama told reporters at a briefing Monday. “So what I’ve said to them is let’s go. It is possible for us to construct a package to involve both parties to take on their sacred cows.”
“We might as well do it now, pull off the band aid, eat our peas,” Obama said.
With the clock ticking down for both sides to reach a deal on raising the debt-ceiling, Obama is urging Republicans to back away from their insistence on no new tax increases and Democrats from refusing to agree to any changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
It looks to me that this is the moment of truth for the Republicans. They have an opportunity to show the American people what they are made of. Can they handle it?
House Republican freshmen admit that their so-called “MediScare” attacks on Democrats helped them win a big majority in 2010. Democrats had voted for the health care law, which included $500 billion in “cuts” to Medicare—primarily slashing overpayments to private insurers—and Republican challengers never let them forget it.Now, they say, it’s time to let bygones be bygones….
On Tuesday, Kinzinger and 41 of his colleagues sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to rein in Democratic attacks on GOP members who voted for the House budget, which includes a plan to privatize Medicare and cap spending on the program.
“We ask that you stand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with this Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs,” the letter reads.
We know it’s hard for you to accept the anger over your vote to end Medicare as we know it, but holding a press conference to ask the American people to ignore your irresponsible vote is, frankly, a bit puzzling. You defended your vote just two weeks ago, but you didn’t like what you got back from your constituents. It’s time to take responsibility for your actions….In case you missed it, here’s the helpful memo we sent your way yesterday.
To: GOP Freshman
Fr: Democratic Leader’s Press Office
Da: May 10, 2011
Re: The Truth Hurts — You Did Vote to End Medicare as We Know It
Just half a day after Speaker Boehner said he wants to engage in “honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare” (ie: the GOP’s plan to end Medicare as we know it), you are trying to silence criticism of your vote supporting the plan….
The Republicans and other conservative politicians talked about wasteful spending. “Slash earmarks,” they cried. “Cut the budget!” These are all very nice ideas which all Americans can agree on. The argument comes when we have sit down and cut something. (Senator-elect Paul has already started to waffle on earmarks.)
When it comes to the Senate, no one’s further to the right than South Carolina’s Jim DeMint (R). And with the GOP planning to slash spending, one would assume that DeMint would be waving the biggest hatchet.
But Jon Chait flagged an interesting exchange from the right-wing senator’s recent appearance on “Meet the Press.” DeMint emphasized his demand that the country be on a “path to balancing our budget,” and noted the need to “look at the entitlement programs.” It led host David Gregory to ask a reasonable question. (see clip above, start at 3:43 time mark)
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that arguably the Senate’s most far-right member is desperate to cut spending, but when pressed, says he wants to leave Social Security and Medicare alone.
The second is that DeMint twice referenced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “roadmap.” Maybe DeMint’s a little behind on his reading, but there’s a disconnect here — while vowing not to cut seniors’ benefits, he’s also endorsing Ryan’s budget plan, which calls for privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare. It also fails miserably in the goal DeMint claims to care about — cutting the deficit. As Paul Krugman recently explained, the Ryan plan “is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.”
What should be clear to the American people is most conservatives are great at talking. They aren’t great at making plans that will help the American people. They have no idea how to do what they are proposing. There will be a big showdown over earmarks. Who knows what’s going to happen on the budget? I don’t suspect that major cuts to Social Security or Defense are really on the table.