“Balanced Approach” Means Cut Spending

| November 28 2012

Less than one month out from the election and hundreds of union members are already marching on Capitol Hill today to pressure lawmakers and the White House to cave on their campaign promises to cut spending, reform entitlement programs and address our more than $16 trillion national debt.  Major union organizations like the AFSCME, the SEIU, and the National Education Association have also launched six-figure television ad-buys opposing any cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  And Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, sent a letter to Congress claiming that the election results were a mandate to leave entitlements alone.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged that entitlement programs are the major drivers of our debt and that any serious “balanced approach” to averting the fiscal cliff must curb our nation’s spending habit.  In fact, the CBO recently issued a report finding that the only outcome with a worse long-term impact than going over the fiscal cliff is continuing on our current path to more than $21 trillion indebt by the year 2017.  The question is whether President Obama and Congressional leaders will keep their word to make the tough decisions we need or bend totheir union-boss allies pushing for the status quo.

Hundreds Of Union Activists Lobbying Washington To Do Nothing On Entitlements:

Union Members Head To Capitol Hill To Lobby For Entitlements And Let Tax Cuts Expire.  “Union members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Education Association(NEA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will also be on Capitol Hill this week to lobby lawmakers. … The head of the nation’s largest labor federation cites this month’s election results — specifically Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama — as reason not to cut into entitlement programs or keep tax cuts for the country’s wealthy.”  (Kevin Bogardus, “Union Members Fly To Washington To Lobby Lawmakers On ‘Fiscal Cliff,’” The Hill, 11/26/12)

Unions Want Washington To Disregard Entitlements In Deficit-Reduction Strategy. “Several major labor unions joined together to release an ad campaign this week pushing members of Congress to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans and protect entitlement programs from major cuts as a solution to the looming fiscal cliff, the groups announced Tuesday.” (Kevin Bohn & Ashley Killough, “Labor Groups Rally Against Spending Cuts In Fiscal Cliff Ads,” CNN.com, 11/20/12)

  • Groups Are Targeting Democrats With A Six-Figure Ad Buy. “The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union(SEIU) and the National Education Association say they’re spending $300,000 on an initial TV and radio buy for the ad campaign, according to a high ranking labor official. … In the upcoming week, the labor unions’ commercials will appear in states with Democratic senators considered by some on the left aspotentially more willing to support some major spending cuts that the unions would oppose.” (Kevin Bohn & Ashley Killough, “Labor Groups Rally Against Spending Cuts In Fiscal Cliff Ads,” CNN.com, 11/20/12)

AARP Is Running TV Ads With The Same Message. “The new ads come as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has also run television ads, educating viewers on the fiscal cliff issue and arguing to keep ‘Medicare and Social Security strong for generations to come.’” (Kevin Bohn & Ashley Killough, “Labor Groups Rally Against Spending Cuts In Fiscal Cliff Ads,” CNN.com, 11/20/12)

Leaders Of Both Parties Acknowledge Entitlements Are The Major Drivers Of Our Debt:

Obama: “I Believe That We Have To Continue To Take A Serious Look At How We Reform Our Entitlements, Because Health Care Costs Continue To Be The Biggest Driver Of Our Deficits.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President At A News Conference, The White House, 11/14/12)

  • “[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner Targeted Entitlement Programs As The Key To Reducing The National Debt While Insisting That Social Security Benefits Remain Protected.” (“Geithner: Entitlement Programs Key To Cutting Deficit,” ABCNews.com, 2/15/11)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Additional revenue should be tied to the only thing that will save the country in the long run, and that is reforming entitlements.” (Robert Pear, “Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance” The New York Times, 11/26/12)

Major Papers Call For Entitlement Reform:

The Washington Post: “Entitlement Reform Must Be On The Table” (Editorial, “Entitlement Reform Must Be On The Table,” The Washington Post, 11/14/12)

USA Today: “Cut Entitlements To Control Debt” (Editorial, “Cut Entitlements To Control Debt,” USA Today, 11/14/12)

Will President Obama And Congressional Democrats Bend On The Need For Reform?

Liberals In Congress Refuse To Reform Entitlements. “Two staunch liberals, Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, said in a letter to Mr. Obama that he should ‘reject changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that would cut benefits, shift costs to states, alter the structure of these critical programs, or force vulnerablepopulations to bear the burden of deficit reduction.’” (Robert Pear, “Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance,” The New York Times, 11/26/12)

White House Draws A Line On Social Security. “White House press secretary, Jay Carney, made clear on Monday that the administration was not considering changes to the retirement program as part of the deficit talks. ‘We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit,’ Mr. Carney said.” (Robert Pear, “Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance,” The New York Times, 11/26/12)

And Despite New Warnings From The CBO, The Real Issue Of Overspending Is Being Overlooked:

“CBO: Debt Poses Greater Long-Term Economic Threat Than Fiscal Cliff” (Joel Gehrke, “CBO: Debt poses greater long-term economic threat than fiscal cliff,” The Washington Examiner, 11/16/12)

CBO: Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013. “[I]f the fiscal tightening was removed and the policies that are currently in effect were kept in place indefinitely, a continued surge in federal debt during the rest of this decade and beyond would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis (in which the government would lose the ability to borrow money at affordable interest rates) and would eventually reduce the nation’s output and income below what would occur if the fiscal tightening was allowed to take place as currently set by law.” (Congressional Budget Office, “Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013,” 11/8/12)

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