To Democrats: Regarding The “Fiscal Cliff” Negotiations

I would like to say to Democrats in the House and Senate who are considering cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social insurance programs:

Don’t do it.

I understand that this is supposed to be a “grand bargain,” as the mainstream media likes to frame it, but this scenario is exactly what Republicans want. They want a “fiscal cliff” type urgency that will force many Democrats to believe big cuts are necessary to programs they might otherwise vigorously defend.

Do not let the loose talk in Republican circles about violating the Grover Norquist “tax pledge” blind you to the fact that Republicans, while losing big this past election, believe they are in a position to finally take some big swings with a sledgehammer to social insurance programs. Many Republicans believe these programs should not exist in the first place.

The only urgency right now is the economy. We need to make sure the economy continues to recover. That means making sure the middle class is not hit with a big tax increase. Ultimately I think everyone’s taxes need to go up, but we can start with the top tax bracket (or several additional upper tax brackets) first. Then in the next few years we can gradually undo the “Bush tax cuts” that have added trillions to our long-term debt.

As for the social insurance programs, let’s be clear, Social Security isn’t even part of the deficit, so that is off the table entirely. Medicare does have long-term solvency problems, but it’s not going to be repaired by gutting the program. I’ve written about this many times — we need Medicare for all. And I think a big push is needed to get us there over the next decade. But the “fiscal cliff” is not the reason to make drastic decisions on the future of Medicare.

There is NO urgency between now and the end of the year to make massive cuts to social insurance programs — NONE.

EconomyGovernmentPoliticsSocial Safety Net

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