Democrats Emerge From White House Meeting Determined Not To Cave On Medicare, Taxes

June 2, 2011 2:28 p.m.
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House Democrats emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama confident that the GOP Medicare plan has Republicans on the ropes and more determined than ever to ensure that tax increases on the wealthiest Americans are included in any long-term debt-reduction package.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the meeting was “very productive” and a “great exchange of ideas.”In negotiations with Republicans to raise the debt-ceiling and reduce the ballooning debt, Pelosi said Democrats and the President are committed to strengthening the middle class and reducing the debt with “balance” and “fairness.”

She also said that the primary focus of the meetings was on greater job creation.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Democrats and Obama have clear objectives in the negotiations: “We need to bring the deficits down and make sure Medicare is strengthened and preserved.”

“The President said failure is not an option” when it comes to raising the debt-ceiling, added Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA). “…We will make sure the middle class and seniors will not be stiff armed in these budget negotiations.”

House Republicans and Democrats are under increasing pressure to stop the bickering, especially when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.

Moody’s Investment Service said Thursday it will be forced to downgrade the federal government’s credit rating if Congress can’t reach agreement on a debt ceiling increase by mid-July.

The major credit rating firm warned that political bickering has gotten out of hand and that they were concerned the two parties’ may not reach a deal before the country defaulted on its obligations, which the Treasury Department warns will occur in early August, setting off a financial crisis.

Despite Pelosi’s optimism that Congress would come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, there’s no sign of progress between the two sides.

The private Democratic huddle occurred one day after House Republicans met with Obama and afterward declared their unwillingness to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without cutting spending by an equal amount, approximately $2.4 trillion.

Republicans are strongly opposed to any deal that would increase taxes in any way while Democrats say they will never agree to a debt-reduction package without revenue raisers, which Republicans regard as a euphemism for tax hikes.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Jon Larson (D-CT) said lawmakers left “united” against any discussion that does not include “revenue raisers.”

Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), the newest member of the Democratic caucus, was the first to speak to the President, one lawmaker said, appealing to do everything he can to preserve Medicare and help small businesses. Hochul’s win last week in a traditionally Republican district was credited in large part to a public backlash against House GOP proposal to create a private voucher system for Medicare.

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