The hope many had that those in American politics would move forward more cohesively following the climatic debt ceiling debate over the summer, appears to be at a standstill and perhaps faltering. Congressional leaders on the deficit “super committee” charged to find at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction through 2021 by November 23 are yet to make a joint recommendation as their deadline quickly approaches. The Hill now reports that liberal groups are applying pressure and threatening former Democratic presidential candidate and deficit super committee member Sen. John Kerry, as well as any other Democrats who they suspect are working with Republicans to find a middle ground on entitlement reform as a part of deficit reductions.
“The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and other labor entities in the state have passed resolutions calling on Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) to publicly oppose cuts to safety-net programs,” writes The Hill. Concerns from liberal activists grew after a proposal emerged from Democrats on the super committee, which has already been rejected by the GOP, that proposed cuts to Social Security cost-of-living increases (COLA) as part of a $3 trillion deficit reduction deal that included $1.3 trillion in tax increases.
The Hill writes that since the proposal, liberal groups including the AFL-CIO and National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare are outraged with Democrats willing to work with Republicans in making any reforms to Social Security:
“Left-leaning activists noted that Democrats successfully united against changes to Social Security in 2005 during President George W. Bush’s second term. Bush’s plan never even got a vote at the committee level.
‘I am much more worried than I was [in 2005],’ said Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Greg Jefferson of the AFL-CIO said Social Security has become the ‘low hanging fruit’ in deficit talks rather than off-limits as it used to be.”
Steven Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, specifically targeted his Senator in a statement, saying: “On behalf of all workers in our state and beyond, the Massachusetts labor movement urges Senator Kerry to capitalize on his historic role by preventing any cuts to the crucial safety net programs that support millions of Massachusetts families.”
The Hill notes that despite comments from the President and many Democratic leaders in Congress who acknowledge that to get the nation’s fiscal house in order, entitlement programs canot be off-limits, liberal activists persist in steadfast opposition and have threatened those willing to compromise with Republicans:
“Still, some activists have warned senior Democrats in private meetings to distance themselves from the party’s supercommittee proposal, or they will face voter wrath in the 2012 elections.
Last week, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka threatened to withhold critical union election support from anyone supporting the reported cuts.”
The L.A. Times notes that Republican congressional leaders have been holed up with their party’s super committee members in recent days to produce a proposal raising some revenue by selling assets and growing the economy while relying primarily on budget cuts to balance the books. Republicans refuse to accept a millionaires-tax that Democrats insist is wealthier households paying “their fair share” to solve the nation’s deficit problems.
Failure to reach a compromise by November 23 is expected to send shock waves through the fragile economy the way that the summer debt ceiling standoff did, ultimately leading to a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating. The Times notes that failure would also trigger automatic budget cuts that both parties want to avoid.