Rep. Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Democracy Now: 1219/122
Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona joins us to discuss his opposition to President Obama's offer to cut more from Social Security than from the military in the ongoing negotiations over avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama has offered to cut some $100 billion from military spending, but even more from Social Security: $130 billion by adjusting the inflation index for Social Security benefits. Grijalva says Obama's proposal opens the door "for some long-term damage down the road."
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We stay in the nation's capital now as we turn to the so-called "fiscal cliff" deal that could come to a vote as early as Thursday. On Monday, the White House issued a new offer to House Republicans. The White House proposed leaving lower tax rates in place for everyone, except those earning $400,000 and above. That's up from the $250,000 threshold the president has been demanding for months.
The offer also floats a lower revenue target of $1.2 trillion, down from $1.6 trillion. While Obama has offered to cut some $100 billion from military spending, he is proposing to cut even more from Social Security: $130 billion by adjusting the inflation index for Social Security benefits. The White House says the Social Security cuts would come with safeguards to protect the most low-income recipients.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congressmember Raúl Grijalva of Arizona has rejected the Social Security cuts outlined in the plan, joining us right now from the Cannon Rotunda on Capitol Hill.
Congressmember, welcome to Democracy Now! Why have you rejected President Obama's compromise with John Boehner, the House speaker?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Well, it's a compromise built on a very weak platform, particularly for Social Security and, as we go down the road, Medicare and Medicaid, in particular. I worry, and many of the members of the Progressive Caucus worry, that we've opened up a door here by talking about linking CPI in any area. And with Social Security, once you open that door, then
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Representative Grijalva, can you explain what CPI is, the Consumer Price and why it's relevant in the negotiations?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: It's relevant in the negotiation because that's the basis by which potential increases to recipients. And, you know, in my district, the people that receive Social Security, whetherwhether it's a retirement benefit or a disability or dependent children, they depend on that for the inflationary rate and for them to be able to adjust what they receive with regards to what's going on in the economy. And we know what's going on in this economy. And it's harder and costlier.
And for us now to open that door now and to allow that bridge to be connected, you might want to say that we're just only going to deal with one portion of the strata. I don't believe that. And I believe that in the long run, we have taken a program that has been a bedrock program for the American people and opened the door for some long-term damage down the road. There are so many things that can be done to generate revenue that we're not looking at, that's not on the table. Even Simpson-Bowles says Social Security does not create the deficit. It is, though, a source of revenue. And that's how it's being looked at in terms of these cuts.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Representative Grijalva, can you talk about some of the key constituents who would be most affected if this proposal goes through?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Well, in my district, a large percentageI would say over halfand many in the country, Social Security is their only source of income, their sole source of income. We're talking about people with disabilities that Social Security assists. We're looking upon dependents and survivors. This is not a group that's readily going to go out and make up the difference in any potential cut. And by opening this door, you are talking about benefit cuts. You canyou can put whatever kind of ornaments you want, but it is a benefit cut. And many of us see that, and we see this link, in the long term, to be something the Republicans have been wanting as a means to begin to deal with Social Security and deal with the trust fund and deal with the fact that it isthat the rate of inflation has dictated what the increases have been for recipients.
AMY GOODMAN: Have spoken with President Obama? How do youand how much consensus do you feel you have in the House right now to oppose cuts to Social Security? And compare it to military spending.
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Yeah, well, you know, military spending, saying the proposal, as I understand it, is $100 billion. Even Gates proposed more cuts than that on defense, on antiquated weapons and making sure that we took care of our troops. But let's look at the fact that we continue to build weaponry that is of no utility in this age and, more importantly, of no utility in the whole issue of disarmament and no utility in the whole issue of maybe restoring some sense of balance and peace in this world.
Having said that, it should be an area that is not sacrosanct. But at the same time, what the Progressive Caucus has said over and over again, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, those programs deserve to be strengthened and improved. There should be a discreet discussion about improvement and strengthening. And there should be other things on the table, Amy, other things like a transition tax for corporations and for Wall Street transfers of a million dollars in the stock market. There should be some cuts in the subsidies for corporations.
There should be some regulations and oversight to make sure that we don't get in the catastrophe that we got into. This amnesia that we don't know how we got here is possibly the most bothersome, to me, that we will repeat, and use this opportunity and use the debt ceiling as an opportunity to further push the agenda, which has been the hard right's agenda, which is to begin to dismantle systematically the support system that's out there for the American people. And that support system is what the federal government does with programs like Social Security and education.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Raúl Grijalva, we want to thank you very much for being with us, Democrat of Arizona, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. When we come back, a Democracy Now! exclusive: an interview with Leonard Peltier in prison in Florida, in prison for more than 37 years. Stay with us.
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From: Justin Ruben, MoveOn.org Political Action [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:56 PM
To: Ed Pearl
Subject: Obama's heartbreaking Social Security cuts
Dear MoveOn member,
Standing up to a President we fought so hard to elect, right after an election, isn't easy.
Which is why we urgently need your advice.
As part of the ongoing fiscal negotiations in Washington, President Obama has offered a massive concession to Republicans: A deal that would slash Social Security benefits by $112 billion over the next decade. And we have to make a decision right now about what to do.
According to the AARP, "A typical 80-year-old woman will lose the equivalent of 3 months worth of food annually" under this plan.1
This is a bad deal for current retirees. And it'll hit future retirees even harder, because the proposal cuts Social Security more and more with each passing year. After 10 years, benefits would be cut by about $500 a year for the average retiree. After 20 years, benefits would be cut by about $1,000 a year. And beyond that, it just gets worse.2
But here's the good news: There's still time to block this deal. The U.S. Senate is full of Social Security champions.3 And Social Security is central to the Democratic Party's legacy.
Still, just like standing up to the President isn't easy for MoveOn members, it isn't easy for Democratic senators. But if Social Security champions who are rejecting this plan in the Senate know we've got their backs, we have a chance to push President Obama to do the right thing.
So we have a decision to make right now: Should MoveOn keep standing with champions of Social Security and make a big final push to oppose any cuts?
If we do this, here's what we have in mind:
- We have a powerful TV ad that we can run in the states of vulnerable Senators who are up for re-election.
- We'll make sure that champions of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid know we have their backs, by publicly thanking them and running ads in support of their leadership.
- We'll continue to remind Democrats that MoveOn-backed primary challenges for those who vote to slash our social safety net are a real possibility.
- We'll organize on-the-ground events at district offices, while Senators are home this week.
- And we'll continue jamming phone lines in Congress and the White House, flooding offices with petitions, and doing whatever else we can to show significant opposition to any deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Click to vote on our plan:
This is not necessarily an easy choice, though. If there's agreement on a "grand bargain," President Obama will use the power of his office to try and sell it to the American people. Going up against that is hard. It will require significant resources. And of course, we just got done making a major financial investment to win his election.
So it's up to you. Thanks so much for your input.
Justin, Vicki, Garlin, Ilya, and the rest of the team
1. "AARP to Congress and the President: Don't Cut Social Security," AARP, December 18, 2012
2. "Social Security COLA Cut," Strengthen Social Security, December 18, 2012
3. "Harry Reid: 'We Are Not Going To Mess With Social Security'," Huffington Post, November 8, 2012
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PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. This email was sent to Ed Pearl on December 19, 2012.
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