In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Hoyer: Dems United Against Entitlement Benefit Cuts In Debt Fight

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"We have made it very clear that we have no intention of supporting cuts in beneficiaries' benefits," Hoyer said at his Tuesday press briefing, in response to a question from TPM.

This is, at the very least, a smart negotiating position for House Democrats. But it sets them apart from President Obama, who's prepared to impose further means testing on Medicare beneficiaries, and perhaps to raise the retirement age by a couple years over time to garner significant House Republican support for a big budget deal that includes higher tax revenues. So if Hoyer and Pelosi hold the line here, then a "grand bargain" may be impossible -- the votes wouldn't be there.

That would widen the rift between Obama and the House, but make progressive advocates and seniors very happy.

Alternatively, this could move Republicans closer to the Democratic position on Medicare and Medicaid -- to look for savings from health care providers and manufacturers first, not directly from beneficiaries -- at which point Dems might soften their demands.

In any case, Hoyer's firm line on this suggests Dems aren't as divided in this debt fight as you might assume they'd be.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com