Everything, including cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, should remain on the table as party leaders seek to hash out an end-of-the-year budget deal, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
A number of Democratic leaders — including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), John Larson (Conn.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.) — have said they would support some spending reductions in Medicare, but that cuts to direct benefits should not be a part of the negotiations. Along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), they also maintain that Social Security reform has no place at all in the “fiscal cliff” talks.
But Hoyer, the Democratic whip, warned that taking those things off the table is a bad place to start the negotiations. Such entrenched positions are little different, he said, than the Republicans’ refusal to consider hikes in tax rates — a central element of President Obama’s deficit-reduction proposal.