Howard Dean’s Group Fights To Take Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid Off Bargaining Table

 A prominent progressive group is ramping up a campaign to take cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the table as part of any final deal on federal spending. The effort by Democracy For America (DFA) comes amid signs of deepening stalemate in the budget crisis.

Associated with former Vermont governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, DFA is urging supporters to contact their members of Congress to reject any measures that would weaken the major federal entitlement programs.

“Here are the facts — Republicans don’t have the votes to increase the debt limit without Democrats, but [Republican House Speaker John] Boehner has rejected every Democratic proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, end subsidies for big oil, or close tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. Instead, Boehner wants to gut Social Security and Medicare,” Michael Langenmayr, DFA’s deputy political director, says in an email.

“Cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid is insane. It will be a punch in the gut to middle class families and will send the country deeper into recession,” he adds. “Thankfully, [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi and progressives in Congress are standing up against John Boehner and his right-wing Tea Party colleagues. We need to let them know that we have their backs.”

The White House and congressional Republicans have been engaged in protracted and high-stakes talks over the course of the federal budget. Conservatives are demanding trillions of dollars in federal budget cuts in exchange for allowing a needed vote on the federal debt limit.

Without an increase in that debt limit, the government is expected to default, on August 2, on its current obligations for the first time in history. The inability of the government to pay its bills would create disaster for the fragile U.S. economy, according to a number of experts. More than 600,000 Americans could lose their jobs as a result of the economic slowdown that a federal default would cause, they say.

The White House has set a deadline of July 22 for any deal, in order to allow enough time for both chambers of Congress to approve needed legislation.

“This is crunch time. Congress has less than two weeks to find a compromise and raise the debt limit. We need to make clear everyone understands that we can’t cut the deficit on the backs of middle class families,” says Langenmayr, who urges supporters to pressure their members of Congress against including cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as part of any budget deal.

The email includes the switchboard number for Congress: (202) 224-3121.

Although the DFA email doesn’t mention the fact, it was President Obama who last week unexpectedly raised the possibility of including Social Security cuts as part of a budget deal.

Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.


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