(This is a cross-post from AFL-CIO Now Blog)
By Kenneth Quinnell
A group of Democratic senators is circulating a letter opposing benefit cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and saying that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should expire at the end of the year. The letter also calls for increasing revenue, cuts to defense and the closing of tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. The letter was drafted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa). The Democratic senators are hoping to get 30 senators to sign the letter.
The letter reads:
“We urge you to reject changes to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that would cut benefits, shift costs to states, alter the structure of these critical programs or force vulnerable populations to bear the burden of deficit-reduction efforts. Each of these programs is a vital lifeline to the middle class.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz also said that we don’t need to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. She also said that raising the eligibility age would be a benefit cut and should be avoided.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka echoed the comments from the Democrats in the House and Senate, rejecting the idea that we even face a “fiscal cliff”:
“The most frustrating thing about Washington, D.C., is the way political insiders create a self-reinforcing reality out of nonsense. Take what the media are calling the “fiscal cliff.”
“There is no fiscal cliff! What we’re facing is an obstacle course within a manufactured crisis that was hastily thrown together in response to inflated rhetoric about our federal deficit.
“But all the deficit chatter has distracted us from our real crisis—the immediate crisis of 23 million unemployed or underemployed workers.
“It’s time to protect Social Security benefits. It’s time to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits. And it’s time to raise taxes for the richest 2%, to stop tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs offshore and to close loopholes that allow some people and corporations to hide income in offshore tax havens.”