Durbin pitching progressives: Fiscal cliff notes Nov. 27, 2012

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Fiscal cliff notes: Nov. 27, 2012

With Congress facing a Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” –an automatic package of tax hikes and spending cuts–President Barack Obama, top congressional figures and special interest groups are spending the rest of this week laying groundwork for battles ahead:


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)–a key fiscal cliff negotiator–deeply involved in debt, deficit and long-term entitlement planning–delivers Tuesday a major address at the Center for American Progress in Washington. Some Democrats in the progressive wing have been resisting changes in Medicare and Medicaid. Durbin in his speech–according to excerpts provided to the Chicago Sun-Times–asks progressives to take a longer view:

“Putting the discussions off indefinitely makes our choices harder; our success less likely; and negative effects on current beneficiaries a near certainty.”

From guidance from Durbin’s office: Durbin “will discuss why deficit reduction can and should be a progressive cause and lay out a fair plan to shrink the deficit, grow the economy and protect the middle class and our nation’s most vulnerable.”

Excerpts from the Durbin speech:

“I have spent hundreds of hours over the last three years – on the Simpson Bowles Commission and as a charter member of the Gang of Eight – locked in rooms with Democrats and Republicans, poring over budget numbers and possible debt solutions.”

…We Won’t Do:

Number one: We will not repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act.

Number two: We will not allow special interests to use deficit reduction as an excuse to gut rules that protect America’s workers, our economy and our environment.

Number three: we won’t abandon entitlement programs in the name of reform.

We won’t privatize Social Security and turn it over to Wall Street to run.

We won’t turn Medicare into a voucher plan for the insurance companies to run.

And we won’t block grant Medicaid. That’s not reform; that’s just shifting costs onto state taxpayers and families.

…Progressives Should Talk About Entitlements – But NOT as Part of a Plan to Avert the Cliff


President Barack Obama on Tuesday according to the White House “will meet with small business owners from across the country at the White House. A list of the small businesses is below…

“The President will be joined by the following small business owners from across the country on Tuesday at the White House, including business owners from the retail, health care IT, and construction sectors. The list is below:

Nikhil Arora, Co-Founder, Back to the Roots, West Oakland, CA

David Bolotsky, CEO, Uncommon Goods, New York, NY

Mandy Cabot, Co-Founder, Dansko, West Grove, PA

Deb Carey, Co-Founder, New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI

Lisa Goodbee, CEO, Goodbee and Associates, Centennial, CO

Andy Harold, Owner, A. Harold + Associates, Jacksonville, FL

Julia Hu, Founder, Lark, Mountain View, CA

David Ickert, Founder, Air Tractor, Inc., Olney, TX

Samanta Joseph, Founder, Samanta Shoes, New York, NY

Lewis Prince, Co-Founder, Vintage Vinyl, Inc., St. Louis, MO

Andra Rush, Founder, Rush Trucking, Wayne, MI

Keith Tillage, President and CEO, Tillage Construction, Baton Rouge, LO

Arnulfo Ventura, Co-Founder and CEO, Coba, Los Angeles, CA

Daniella Yacobovsky, Co-Founder, BaubleBar, New York, NY

Chris Yura, Founder, SustainU, Morgantown, WV


A problem for many Republicans is dealing with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax pledge. Some Republicans are considering breaking the pledge they signed. On CNN Tuesday morning, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), discussing the fiscal cliff negotiations, said he would not go back on his pledge–but was open to some maneuvers.

Toomey told CNN, “The revenue side isn’t where the problem lies in the first place. This is a side show to the real problem – the real problem that the President has refused to address. How are we going to put our entitlement programs on a sustainable path? How are we going to live within our means? Now if we’re going to do something on the revenue side, then for Gosh sakes let’s at least not damage the economy any more than we have to. And so let’s do it by lowering marginal rates and generating revenue through reducing the value of deductions, write-offs and loopholes – the kinds of things that destroy economic activity.”

From CNN: “When CNN’s John Berman points out that closing loopholes and reducing deductions would violate Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Toomey answers, “I don’t intend to violate any pledge. My pledge is not to support higher taxes. What we’re faced with in just a few weeks is a massive tax increase. If I can help ensure that we don’t have that tax increase, then I believe I’ve fulfilled my pledge to fight for the lowest possible taxes.”

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