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Liberal Groups Fighting Grand Bargain – For Now

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As we try to soak in what the President just had to say, keep in mind that there’s a growing citizen-led movement, backed by labor and progressive groups, to push Democrats away from anything approaching a grand bargain that would cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security (they should also be protective of regular discretionary spending, but that’s besides the point at the moment). Scenes like this are playing out all over the country.

Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” blared as local labor leaders and a top Democrat rallied against possible federal cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid and tax breaks for the rich.

Taking care of their own was indeed the vibe Thursday in front of the Social Security Administration building at 4th and Spring Garden streets.

“Do not mess with our Social Security, don’t mess with Medicare, do not mess with Medicaid,” Rep. Bob Brady, the city Democratic leader, told a crowd of union members and community supporters.

“I’ve just got to talk to my mother to put some fire in me, to make sure they don’t touch her Social Security,” Brady said. He said bills are rising for the elderly, but Social Security isn’t covering their expenses.

This is in the days after the election, when the public is supposed to be burned out on campaigning and rhetoric and looking ahead to an era of working together. But these activists are out in force expressing their principles in the upcoming fight.

Elsewhere, 146 national groups have made their concerns known to President Obama, saying that the fiscal slope negotiations must result in job creation strategies and not any cuts to social insurance programs. Specifically, these groups want the sequester cancelled, revenue increased on hikes to the wealthy and corporations, job-side stimulus and no harm done to the safety net.

The groups include labor, communities of faith, civil rights organizations, Americans with disabilities, and good government groups. Here’s a critical excerpt:

As you work to craft a resolution to these economic and fiscal challenges, we urge you to embrace the call of the American people to focus on job creation and avoid any actions that would cost jobs, oppose benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, protect our nation’s safety net, and oppose any extension of the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans […]

Given the current state of the economy, we have serious concerns that many of the proposals under consideration would require substantial reductions in federal investments, removing even more money from the economy and burdening many of the same working families that have already borne the brunt of our nation’s deficit reduction efforts.

We have seen this all before, of course. It’s the first step of a familiar dance that almost never ends well. I don’t think anyone’s particularly fooled by it. Right now we’re in step one of that six-step process, the intransigence stage. The real effort right now comes in ensuring that the next steps, where the intransigent groups go soft and view the cuts as acceptable or the least-worst option, never come to pass.

I’ll put the entire letter, with all the named member organizations, on the flip, just so we have a record of it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen