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Unlike the minimum wage push, which faces stiff GOP resistance in Congress, liberal activists can claim a semblance of victory on Social Security in this week’s limited budget agreement, which cuts deficits by a modest $22 billion over the next decade. Although Ellison said he’s uncomfortable with pay cuts to federal workers, on Social Security he called it “a victory so far.”
The administration’s original budget plan to reduce the formula for future cost-of-living increases was met with alarm in April by activists on the left and such groups as the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Max Richtman, who heads the group, appeared with Ellison at last month’s White House rally and told supporters that “the elephant in the room is a donkey,” a play on the two political parties’ symbols.
Republicans, who pushed for deeper spending cuts in the budget deal, have questioned whether the White House proposal to cut Social Security was ever more than a bargaining ploy.
Either way, Ricthman said, the Obama plan helped create a groundswell of grass-roots Democratic opposition. “It has stiffened the spines of a few Democrats who were getting a little wobbly,” Richtman said.
The GOP, which needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate, appears keen to frame the 2014 elections around the problems of Obamacare and the nation’s mounting debt. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the political arm of Senate Republicans, has sought to define Franken as “part of Washington’s spending problem.”
Minnesota’s junior senator acknowledges that changes need to be made to keep Social Security solvent, but he has said that reducing the cost-of-living index is not the way to go about it. His campaign has backed an online petition to stop Social Security cuts, telling supporters that while action is needed to cut the deficit, “I’m committed to making sure that action doesn’t cut Social Security.”
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