It’s obvious that groups like and the Congressional Progressive Caucus will reject any cuts to Social Security and Medicare in a debt limit deal. At least, I’m confident at this point that they will. MoveOn came out with a poll today showing a total erosion of the President’s support if he goes this route, and the CPC basically signed a pledge not to vote for any deal with these elements.

For instance, remember when AARP appeared to put benefit cuts back on the table a few weeks ago with a big story in the Wall Street Journal? Take a look at their take today.

“AARP will not accept any cuts to Social Security as part of a deal to pay the nation’s bills,” said (CEO Barry) Rand. “Social Security did not cause the deficit, and it should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause. As the President and Congress work to negotiate a deal to raise the debt ceiling, AARP urges all lawmakers to reject any proposals that would cut the benefits seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

“AARP is strongly opposed to any deficit reduction proposal that makes harmful cuts to vital Social Security and Medicare benefits. Social Security is currently the principal source of income for nearly two-thirds of older American households receiving benefits, and roughly one third of those households depend on Social Security benefits for nearly all (90 percent or more) of their income. The deficit debate is not the time or the place to talk about Social Security. AARP will fight any cuts that are proposed to this important program, including proposals to reduce the cost of living adjustment for beneficiaries (COLA)–such as the proposed chained CPI–which AARP also believes should not be considered as part of the debt ceiling or deficit reduction negotiations.

“AARP also strongly urges the President and congressional leaders to reject any proposals that would impose arbitrary, harmful cuts to the Medicare program or shift additional costs onto Medicare beneficiaries. Half of all beneficiaries live on incomes of less than $22,000, and many already struggle to pay for their ever-rising health and prescription drug costs.

AARP takes full aim at chained CPI – precisely the Social Security benefit cut on the table in the debt limit talks. And they strongly reject cost-shifting in Medicare.

What about the proposed Medicaid cuts, which would completely shift costs onto states and lead to either ineffective or unusable coverage? Here’s Richard Kirsch in a remarkable op-ed.

While the public debate about the Republican budget focused on the sharp reactions against Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization scheme, the other big “M” in health care, Medicaid, hasn’t received the attention it deserves. As a result, the Obama administration has proposed cuts in Medicaid. These will undermine the achievements of its own historic health care law and harm access to health care for tens of millions of women, children and seniors […]

Unfortunately, most of the proposals that have been made by President Obama in the debt-ceiling negotiations are a kinder and gentler version of the same wrong-headed policy of shifting costs to states, and through them to American families, rather than dealing with the underlying reasons that Medicaid costs are rising.

It’s a solid op-ed, so go read it all, but the real innovation here is who’s saying it. Richard Kirsch is the former head of Health Care for America Now, the Obama front group during the health care debate.

It’s going to take a full-court press, a coalition-wide effort, to stop a proposal like this if Republicans sign onto it. But that’s starting to take shape.

UPDATE: As I said, nobody in the Democratic coalition wants this deal. Third Way appears to be quite happy. I’m sure Erskine Bowles is doing a jig.

David Dayen

David Dayen