In it, but not of it. TPM DC
The Democratic senators wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading these discussions, urging the administration to remain strongly opposed to any GOP efforts to insert the Ryan plan into a massive deficit-reduction package.
Those signing the letter include: Brown and Cardin, as well as Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
"The reason for the letter is that the Republicans are using the debt-ceiling to try to move forward their extreme agenda -- to try to move Medicare to a voucher program," Cardin said. "This is not about balancing the budget. It's about fundamentally changing our commitment to our seniors."
Democrats have been on the anti-Ryan Medicare plan offensive since Democrat Kathy Hochul won an improbable victory in a special election last month focused almost entirely on the issue.
Schumer on Monday called the Ryan Medicare plan the "biggest barrier to making progress" in debt-reduction talks.
Republicans counter-punch by pointing out that Democrats have yet to submit their own detailed plan about reforming Medicare before it goes bankrupt by 2024, as some estimates predict. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Monday released a statement criticizing Democrats for ignoring the surging debt while the economy suffers as a result.
"As Americans lose their jobs, Senate Democrats refuse to perform their own," Sessions' release stated.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has set Aug. 2 as a deadline for Congress to raise the debt-ceiling or facet the economic fallout of defaulting. As the clock clicks down this summer, both sides are under increasing pressure to reach a deal.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) earlier Monday acknowledged Aug. 2 as a legitimate deadline for increasing the nation's debt limit after previously playing down talks of a deadline and a looming economic crisis if it isn't reached. Republicans are seeking trillions in spending cuts as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.