The “fiscal cliff” negotiations (or at least they will be when the Republicans show up) have gone through a media roller coaster — they’re talking, they’re dealing, Medicare is on the table, Medicare of off of the table, they’re not talking, they’re not dealing, they are at an impass. The current story seems to be that Boehner still can’t get the President to negotiate with himself and Boehner still can’t get his caucus under control. But watching this has produced some satisfying optics. Optics don’t get you to good governing, but it is a pleasure to see Democrats playing offense for a change.
Let’s start with Minority Leader Pelosi — if there was one thing I’d ask President Obama for, it would be to keep his campaign team together to make her Speaker Pelosi in 2014. On Tuesday, Pelosi took to the pages of USATODAY to defend Medicare against the eligibility age changes the GOP want to enact.
Put another way: raising the Medicare age asks the most vulnerable citizens to pay more with little to show for it in terms of long-term deficit reduction or more affordable care, for seniors or anyone else. It increases health spending across-the-board. It takes money out of the pockets of a small slice of Americans.
Right. There’s no reason not to look at ways to constrain the cost grrowth of Medicare (and Medicaid, for that matter), but cost shifting is just plain stupid. And, for the record, bipartisan stupid is still stupid and it still breaks faith with our seniors.
Today, Leader Pelosi took to the floor of the House to rip into Republicans for their lack of support for passing the middle class tax cuts. Her discharge petition still lacks the tipping point number of signatures to get it to the floor, but I’d bet she’s plenty confident that if it did, it would pass. So it is great to see her reminding folks of the facts on the ground — namely that they’ve already voted for more than a trillion in cost savings to Medicare (plus those built into the ACA). The only people who haven’t given any ground here is the GOP. She brought this up during a debate on the floor to consider easy bills under a suspension of the rules while they wait for the GOP to come to the table re: the fiscal cliff. This shows Leader Pelosi calling for the middle class tax cuts to be considered under the suspension of rules.
The Hill has a small clip of Leader Pelosi calling out Rep. Sessions, which includes this bit:
Her remarks prompted a visible reaction from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), which led Pelosi to call him out on the floor.
“Do I detect your smirk to mean that you don’t think Republicans will vote for a middle-income tax cut, Mr. Sessions?” she asked. “Should I take it to mean you will continue to hold middle-income tax cuts hostage, giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country?
“The unfairness of it is appalling,” Pelosi added. “The fact that it increases the deficit is disgraceful, and that it does not create jobs is a big mistake for us to make.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) scolded Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in remarks to the press Wednesday for refusing to extend middle income tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Her message? Being speaker is hard, but figure it out for the good of the country.
“It’s tough. But you have to do it,” she told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. “Figure it out.”
Then we have Chris Van Hollen who is speculating to anyone who will listen that Speaker Boehner is slow walking any deal so he can save his Speakership.:
“I’m getting increasingly concerned that one of the reasons the Speaker is deciding to, I think, string out these discussions is that he wants to wait til January 3 when the election for Speaker takes place and he’s concerned that any agreement he reaches if it violated the so-called Hastert Rule could undermine support for him in his caucus and make it more difficult on January 3,” he told reporters at a Wednesday breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Excellent knife-twisting there.
All of this, of course, is about adding the pressure on Boehner and the GOP to just deal with reality and get this fiscal cliff deal done. Even though letting it go through achieves much of what the deficit hawks and spending handwringers want. And I dearly want to see more of this kind of thing next year as the Dems are likely to be on the right side of a number of big issues.