With the crisis chatter in Washington now turning to speculation about the coming budget talks and the possibility of a “grand bargain” to replace the sequester, liberals and unions are getting increasingly nervous that Congressional Dems will give up entitlement benefits cuts in exchange for, well, whatever is on offer from Republicans, which isn’t at all clear.
In an interview, Damon Silvers, the policy director of the AFL-CIO, laid down a hard line, putting Dems on notice that any agreement that cuts entitlement benefits — even in a deal that includes GOP concessions on tax hikes — is a nonstarter. Silvers strongly suggested labor would withhold support in 2014 from any Dem lawmaker who supports such a deal.
“We are opposed to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits cuts. Period,” Silvers told me. “There will be no cover for members of either party who vote for such a thing.”
Silvers said the AFL-CIO also opposes the entitlements cuts in the President’s budget, such as Chained CPI and a form of Medicare means testing. It’s unclear how, or whether, those will figure in what Dems bring to the table in the budget talks, which are mandated by the deal just reached to end the crisis.
“Chained CPI is like the vampire of American politics,” Silvers said. “It keeps being shot through the heart and it keeps reviving. The reason it keeps coming back is because it has...