While Mike Allen’s anonymous win-the-day sources tell him that the Obama Administration would welcome a deal in the cat food commission around Social Security to “establish credibility with the markets” (with 10-year bond yields at a rock-bottom 2.56%, I’d say the credibility has been established), others in the Democratic coalition are slowly drawing a line in the sand against any cuts to Social Security benefits. This includes members in some of the most hard-fought seats in the country in November.
UPDATE: Just for the record, Mike Allen is a shitty reporter and Politico likes to gin up false narratives. None of this should be remotely surprising, but a gentle reminder to beware when repeating anything from the bowels of Politico.
The coalition Hands Off Social Security has been putting together a whip count to gauge the attitudes of Democrats on the landmark social program. Their pledge is simple:
Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it. Social Security is a promise that must not be broken. If you pay in, then you earn the right to benefits for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children when you retire, experience a severe disability, or die.
We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. That is why I oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including increasing the retirement age. I also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.
So far, the coalition counts 17 House Democrats and 3 Senate Democrats as signing on to the principles in the pledge. In addition, 4 Senate Democratic candidates (Rodney Glassman, Roxanne Conlin, Elaine Marshall, Jack Conway) and 5 House Democratic candidates (Bill Hedrick, Francine Busby, Ann McLane Kuster, Manan Trivedi, David Segal) have signed on to the pledge.
Those signers include some incumbents in tough races this fall. Carol Shea-Porter, representing the deficit-conscious state of New Hampshire, is among the pledgers:
One idea being floated by some in Washington D.C., Shea-Porter said, is increasing the age that senior citizens can begin collecting from 67 years old to 70 or 73 years old — a proposal Shea-Porter said she cannot support.
“If you started working at 18 and worked 50 years, you might be a little tired,” Shea-Porter said. “That’s no time to say ‘Oh, by the way, we want you to keep working another five years.’”
She said that lifting the payroll tax cap would be the “fair” way to fix the long-term actuarial balance.
Debbie Halvorson (D-IL), also in a potentially difficult race and not seen as a flaming liberal, is pushing a petition to protect the program:
Following the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act into law, U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, launched an online petition against attempts to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security benefits for Illinois seniors.
“I talk to seniors every day who are struggling to make ends meet, and cutting their benefits or raising the retirement age would simply be devastating,” Halvorson said n a written statement. “The petition we launched today gives those seniors a voice and lets them tell their story of why these important benefits can’t be taken away.”
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), who has a top-tier opponent in Lou Barletta, came out opposed as well:
Kanjorski’s campaign spokesman Ed Mitchell believes Barletta and Boehner are campaigning together because Barletta’s beliefs are identical to Boehner’s. Mitchell also points out if Barletta is elected he would vote for Boehner to take over House leadership from Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
“Like Lou Barletta has, John Boehner supports privatization of Social Security. He also wants to raise the retirement age to qualify for it. Lou Barletta’s vote will give Boehner control of the Congress to push that agenda. Paul Kanjorski opposes privatization and raising the retirement age or any other cuts in the program. The choice is clear,” Mitchell stated in an e-mail.
We’re just at the beginning of this whip count, and already some of the more irascible elements of the caucus are not only on board but actively using their opposition to cuts as a political selling point. I’d expect many more to sign on in the coming weeks.
I’ll close with the smart take from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY):
Just so we are clear. Social security does not add to deficit. Period. Take it out of deficit commission.
The full list of pledge signers, so far, on the flip:
Grijalva, Woolsey, G. Miller, Pelosi, Filner, Grayson, Klein, Loebsack, Halvorson, Schauer, Conyers, Pomeroy, Shea-Porter, Maffei, Kaptur, DeFazio, Kanjorski
Boxer, Sanders, Feingold
House Democratic candidates:
Bill Hedrick (CA-44), Francine Busby (CA-50), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Manan Trivedi (PA-06), David Segal (RI-01)
Senate Democratic candidates:
Rodney Glassman (AZ), Roxane Conlin (IA), Elaine Marshall (NC), Jack Conway (KY)