Rep. Raúl Grijalva Rejects Obama "Fiscal Cliff" Plan to Cut More from Social
Security than Military
> 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 Obamas 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 Obamas proposal opens the
door "for some long-term damage down the road."
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We stay in the nations 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. Thats 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
Obamas compromise with John Boehner, the House speaker?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Well, its 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 weve 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 its relevant in the negotiations?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Its relevant in the negotiation because thats the
basis by which potential increases to recipients. And, you know, in my
district, the people that receive Social Security, whetherwhether its 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 whats going on in the economy. And we know whats
going on in this economy. And its 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 were just only going to deal with one
portion of the strata. I dont 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 were not
looking at, thats not on the table. Even Simpson-Bowles says Social
Security does not create the deficit. It is, though, a source of revenue.
And thats how its 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. Were talking about people with
disabilities that Social Security assists. Were looking upon dependents and
survivors. This is not a group thats 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 lets 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 dont
get in the catastrophe that we got into. This amnesia that we dont 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 rights agenda, which is to begin
to dismantle systematically the support system thats 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.
* * *
From: Justin Ruben, MoveOn.org Political Action
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:56 PM
To: Ed Pearl
Subject: Obama's heartbreaking Social Security cuts
Heartbreaking news: To appease Republicans, President Obama has offered to
slash Social Security benefits by $112 billion over the coming decade.
If this goes through, Barack Obama will be the first Democratic president in
history to cut Social Security benefits.
Should MoveOn make a big final push against any cuts to Social Security?
Click a link below to vote:
2x&t=1> Yes, let's keep fighting to stop cuts to Social Security.
> I don't
think we should do that.
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?
2x&t=3> Let's make a big final push to stop the proposed cuts to Social
don't think we should do that." (And tell us why.)
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
* 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,
Click to vote on our plan:
2x&t=5> Let's make a big final push to stop the proposed cuts to Social
don't think we should do that." (And tell us why.)
Last time there was talk of a "grand bargain," progressives united behind a
simple message: No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. And,
after a long fight, we won.
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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authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. This email was sent to
Ed Pearl on December 19, 2012.
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