These vital and hugely successful programs deserve to be strengthened and expanded, not cut. But the Republicans are longstanding opponents of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and have been waging an unrelenting, decades-long assault to destroy, defund or privatize these programs.
The last thing we need is a powerful Democrat, especially one like Sen. Durbin who claims to care about these programs, going on national television and saying he’s open to making a deal with the Republicans that includes benefit cuts.
After standing unified in the shutdown and debt ceiling fight, the Democrats are in a great negotiating position with Paul Ryan and the House Republicans. It is mind-boggling that they would move from a position of strength to a position of weakness so quickly.
Not only did Sen. Durbin keep the door open to benefits cuts, he also parroted the misleading talking points of those who are committed to cutting Social Security and Medicare saying: "Social Security is gonna run out of money in 20 year" and "If we don't focus on the health care and dealing with the entitlements, the baby boom generation is going to blow away our future."
As Senator Durbin knows, the Social Security trust fund was pre-funded by the Baby Boomers, to the tune of $2.7 trillion dollars, in order to help pay for their retirement.
And to the extent that we’re worried about it being able to pay 100% of scheduled benefits decades from now, the solution shouldn’t involve slashing already too-small benefits, but raising the "cap" and taxing capital gains for Social Security.
Cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits is deeply unpopular across the political spectrum. Not to mention, by agreeing to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits would almost certainly torpedo the Democrats’ approval ratings and erase any electoral advantage they gained due to the shutdown. AFL-CIO To Democrats: We'll Work To End Your Career If You Cut Social Security Or Medicare.
Senator Durbin is a powerful leader within the Senate and within the Democratic Party. We can’t let him think it’s acceptable to offer up benefit cuts, regardless of whether the offer is earnest or part of some stratagem. These programs are too important to be used as bargaining chips. And we need to speak out to make sure he knows that we won’t sit down and stay quiet while he -- or any other Democrat -- does so.
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