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July 08, 2011

DCCC: We Can’t Recruit Candidates If Medicare Cut in Debt Limit Deal

Posted in: Uncategorized

I got a pretty incredible email solicitation by the DCCC, the campaign arm for House Democrats, today.

I need your urgent help. Republicans are gearing up to enact their radical plan to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, women and people with disabilities.

At this moment, Speaker Boehner is crafting a deficit deal that would gut Medicare and Social Security, while slashing benefits for seniors and the middle class in order to make sure he protects tax breaks for millionaires. This is unacceptable and House Democrats will not stand for this.

We need to show our strength on this issue with one, unified voice — and time is critical.

Sign our petition right now and join me in telling Republicans that Social Security and Medicare cuts are off the table. We refuse to let Republicans balance the budget on the backs of seniors, women and people with disabilities while supporting tax breaks for millionaires.

President Obama is written out of this story, of course, even though he put the Medicare and Social Security cuts back on the table. But it’s pretty alarming to see the D-Trip do this. If nothing else, it’s defying what the President explicitly wants.

There are two explanations for this. One is it’s just part of the “rotating heroes” series where a politician or organization list-builds off of the Democratic base while selling them out behind closed doors. Certainly the D-Trip has a poor track record generally among progressives, so that shouldn’t be discounted. But there’s also a real-world factor here, which Sam Stein plays out. Simply put, it will be impossible to recruit Democratic House candidates for November 2012 if their best issue gets taken off the table in the debt limit negotiations.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel warned lawmakers on Friday that he would have trouble recruiting candidates for office if the party caved on Medicare during the debt ceiling negotiations.

The comments came during a closed-door caucus meeting. Multiple sources confirmed the remarks, describing them as “impassioned.”

“He said recruits would not consider running if Democrats did not stand up for Medicare,” one attendee told The Huffington Post. “He added that national polling showed a seismic shift against House Republicans after the [Paul] Ryan budget because of Medicare.”

I always thought that, if nothing else, the self-preservation instinct might kick in to save Democrats from themselves. Israel runs the campaign team, and has political considerations at heart. And it’s simply a fact that, if the White House leads on cutting Medicare, they take the best argument for Democrats in the House off the table completely. Obama would be furthering his own re-election, or at least so he thinks, at the expense of the party. And the party, by virtue of voting for it, would have to be willing accomplices in providing this get-out-of-jail free card to the GOP.

You can just hear the glee from John Cornyn if you read this quote closely:

Republicans, who for months had their backs to the wall after they voted for Ryan’s far-reaching Medicare overhaul, sense new political opportunity.

“It dilutes their argument that the mean old Republicans are going to end Medicare as you know it,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told POLITICO.

That’s an understatement. This is really the President pushing his own party into the trenches to be shot.

There’s a fledgling effort from House liberals to stop any entitlement cuts. And maybe they can steer at least the Medicare cuts in another direction, like through allowing negotiation on prescription drugs to save money. That would actually be a positive development.

But if Obama cannot be swayed, House Democrats will have the choice: do they want to remain in the minority for the foreseeable future? Or did they run for office for some reason other than personal enrichment in their post-Congress lobbying careers?

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