Rep. Paul Ryan now has a clear, unmistakable message about where the American Majority stands on his ideas for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits – no, no, 700,000 times no.
Ryan’s office on Wednesday received a petition signed by more than 700,000 people that said there should be “no grand bargain” in the budget negotiations being led by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”
Our video shows what happened when two dozen representatives of the nine organizations that helped collect petition signatures, including the Campaign for America’s Future, went to Capitol Hill to deliver the petitions to Ryan’s office.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spearheaded the effort in the Senate. (The other participating organizations were the Alliance for Retired Americans, Campaign for Community Change, DailyKos, Democracy for America, The Other 98%, Progressives United, Social Security Works and USAction.) He is a member of the House-Senate budget conference charged with coming up with a federal spending plan for 2014 and beyond. And he has made it clear that he is not happy with where he sees those negotiations going. At Wednesday’s meeting, Reuters reported, Sanders “complained about the secret negotiations and vowed to stop efforts to cut the Social Security pension program and Medicare and Medicaid healthcare benefits. … ‘I’m not a great fan of background negotiations,’ Sanders told Reuters Insider Television. ‘I will do my best to make sure that we don’t cut these very important programs, which are life and death to millions of Americans.’”
Sanders’ fears are real. Several news outlets have reported that as budget negotiators try to find a way forward to a bipartisan agreement, in the words of The Washington Post, “the real talks are taking place behind closed doors between Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash.”
Ryan, who is the chair of the House Budget Committee, brings to the table his budget proposal, outlined in his disingenuously titled “The Path to Prosperity.” That document says that recommendations like limiting the cost-of-living adjustment for increasing Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age from the fiscal commission led by former Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, figureheads for the Peter Peterson “Fix the Debt” campaign, “offer guidance on where bipartisan consensus can be reached on strengthening Social Security.”