Here’s how out of control the debt limit debate has gotten on Capitol Hill. The Democrat in the White House is trying to increase the eligibility age for Medicare or effect a Social Security benefit cut, and the Republican from Maine is trying to stop him.
“There are solvency problems with both programs,” Sen. Olympia Snowe said in an interview on Friday, “They have to be addressed but not as part of the debt reduction talks.”
She said any debt reduction plan worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders will still need the support of members of both parties and both Medicare and Social Security have strong bipartisan support […]
She said she has no idea what will come out of the budget talks but she believes to get enough votes to pass it will have to have cuts in spending and additional revenue.
“We are not talking about raising tax rates,” she said, “but there are a lot of tax credits that are not needed and should be repealed.”
Susan Collins basically concurred with her. So that’s at least two Republicans in the Senate you could get on a deal that would probably have more spending cuts than revenue increases, but would basically hold Social Security and Medicare harmless.
That this deal, which has bipartisan support, has not been explored is probably attributable to the President wanting a right-leaning deal for the purposes of his re-election effort. Incidentally, what Snowe and Collins have in mind IS ALSO a right-leaning deal, simply by virtue of the fact that it contracts fiscal policy during a jobs crisis.
As for whether offering this grand bargain will help with re-election, keep in mind that everything Olympia Snowe has done has been to maximize her re-election bid. She signed on to a Balanced Budget Amendment, fercryinoutloud. And even she recognizes that cutting Social Security and Medicare is a total loser politically. For some reason, the President either doesn’t agree, or he does and he just wants to do it anyway because of some belief that taking deficits “off the table” now will allow for better policies in the future.