Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare if Democrats want to change the terms of the “sequester.” I’m sure their Tea Party “base” would be shocked if they understood this. So would most Americans. So is the media giving Americans the information they need in order to make informed decisions?
Yesterday The Hill reported, in House GOP says sequester is leverage in next budget battle, that Rep. Paul Ryan is pushing for cuts in Social Security and Medicare:
In a meeting with House conservatives, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), told rank-and-file lawmakers that, as the party’s chief budget negotiator, he would push instead [of killing Obamacare] for long-term reforms to entitlement programs in exchange for changes to sequestration spending cuts that Democrats are expected to demand.
[. . .] Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said that during the GOP meeting, Ryan pointed to sequestration as the party’s leverage with Democrats and said the Republican negotiators would not accept revenue increases in exchange.
“We’re going to try to push for some substantial reforms on entitlement spending and our backstop is sequestration,” Salmon said in describing Ryan’s remarks.
Most American’s don’t read The Hill. And most Americans don’t know that “long-term reforms” to “entitlement spending” specifically means cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Reuters is pretty much the only outlet carrying this news, in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan wants narrower focus for new budget talks,
Ryan, who will lead Republicans on the panel, said there was a better chance of finding common ground with Democrats on “smarter” spending cuts to replace the across-the-board reductions to discretionary spending. He said those include reforms to “entitlements,” which include the Medicare and Social Security programs for the elderly, Medicaid healthcare for the poor and some farm subsidy programs.
That’s about it. So let’s go back to a few weeks before The Hill’s report, and see if there have been reports in the major media that spell out for the public that, having dropped their demand to get rid of Obamacare Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
On October 8 Ryan laid it out in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Paul Ryan: Here’s How We Can End This Stalemate, in which he called for cuts in Medicare and Social Security,
To break the deadlock, both sides should agree to common-sense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.
… We could provide relief from the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act in exchange for structural reforms to entitlement programs.
… mandatory spending—which mostly consists of funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—will grow by $1.6 trillion, or roughly 79%. The 2011 Budget Control Act largely ignored entitlement spending. But that is the nation’s biggest challenge.
(Note that later in this op-ed he explains that “reform” of the tax code means “lower the rates.”)
Here is NBC News, October 17, actually saying it, in Fiscal deal opens door to big tax and entitlement changes,
The deal struck Wednesday in Washington could make it easier for lawmakers to make big changes to tax policy, spending and entitlement programs.
… This blueprint could be the vehicle for major policy changes intended to reduce budget deficits and debt. These might include tax increases and curbs in the entitlement programs such as Medicare.
I can’t find much else. Can you? Do people you talk to understand that Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare? How do you think people would react if they understood this?
To many in the voting public the word “entitlements” does not translate to “Social Security and Medicare.” Ryan and the Republicans understand this. This is why they talk about “reforming” something that is not clearly understood as Social Security and Medicare.
So again, have any major news outlets explained to the public using words that the public understands that the Republican position in the current budget negotiations is a demand to cut Social Security and Medicare?
Dave Johnson is a Fellow with Campaign for America’s Future and a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave is founder and principal author at Seeing the Forest, and a blogger at Speak Out California. He is a frequent public speaker, talk-radio personality and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community.