The Cycle | January 28, 2013
>>> the commitments we make to each other through medicare and medicaid and social security do not sap our nation. they strengthen us. they do not make us a nation of takers. they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
>> it's hard to believe but the inauguration was just a week ago. in that speech, the president staunchly defended medicaid, medicare and social security and at least made it seem like they would be safe in the next round of debt talks but a month ago he was singing a different tune and hinted at makes cuts to medicare . that move could lead to some democratic intraparty fighting like we have seen within the gop recently. which obama will show up for the state of the union and more importantly the spending battle ahead? here to help us make sense of it, buzz feed contributor, blake zeff. you have been writing a lot about this. i guess what i'm trying to make sense of right now is where obama is sort of strategically on this. two summers ago during the debt ceiling talks, there was signals of the white house to raise the eligible age of medicare like two months ago signals ago cpi change is good and then paul ryan saying i don't think there's anything and going to accept the sequester, you know, which touches defense and not the social safety net at all and that's it. have we entered a new face and medicare and medicaid off the table? what do you think?
>> i wouldn't be so sure. you're right the president is all over the map on this and yesterday there's an interview with him in "the new republic" and might have been code words and wanted the talk about judicious reforms to medicare and mart changes to social security and how he's willing to buck what he called i think the ideological wing of the party. this kind of a thing and so as you mentioned he's many times before have been willing to even interested in floating changes to medicare and medicaid and now to think he's not going to is a stretch at this point.
>> have republicans kind of missed they should moment, though? because as steve is saying, the president seemed to be willing to offer up entitlement reforms and during the fiscal cliff negotiations, there was an offer of reduced social security benefits. have republicans kind of missed their chance to really force reforms on the democratic party ? have they saved news a sense?
>> it's a good way of putting it. if that's what happens, that would be the cause. republicans had overreached or overplayed their hand and certainly possible but i do think that, you know, i just want to be clear. obama is on the record many times over in the past saying he supports changes to the programs including change cpi as steve mentioned and raising the age for medicare and so it would not surprise me at all to see these things come back in talks over the next month or two.
>> blakes, democrats arguing about entitlements, i get confused. being a democrat is about helping the weakest grow stronger. that's what a democrat is all about. not just socially but economically, as well. these sort of arguments make we say what does it mean to be a democrat then?
>> it's a great question. i have talked about how there are kind of two categories of democrats . one are what you might call liberals. right? strong economically and strong on the cult call issues and then something i call social progressive economic conservatives and hope that "cycle" viewers help this term catch on but what i mean by that is people sort of with the liberals on marriage equality , choice, things like that, but with economic issues, they're not really and a strand of democrats , toure, you are familiar with and call themselves pro business democrats , enjoy taking on public workers and those kinds of things.
>> i'm not hanging out with them.
>> right. i would not call them liberals but specs and so i think that there are two different strands in the party now.
>> what would you call them again?
>> that's really pejorative pounding.
>> can we throw a "k" on the end of it or something?
>> there you go.
>> as we talk more about this internal war we'll hear more stuch like this but there's a "the washington post " editorial last month to nudge this in the right direction. it wrote that democrats like to say they're for balance in the fiscal debate and republicans favor spending cuts that argument is increasingly difficult to credit. because of the aging population that's not politics. that's reality. democrats need to sort of appreciate that. you know, bill clinton used to be the guy that would nudge liberals to the center on these tax and spend kind of issues. is he still the guy or is there another voice in the democratic party that you think is going to strike that tone?
>> with respect to moderation?
>> well, the first thing i would say is in terms of spending cuts if you go back a year or so ago, maybe two, there's over a trillion dollars in spending cuts right there in the control act and not totally fair to say there haven't been spending cuts under this president but in terms of the voice of moderation the point we're trying to make is we don't know where president obama will be and the rhetoric sort of changed depending on the political circumstances. i suspect if he once again floats the change cpi solution or i should say proposal, to social security , that there will be people such as yourself on the right who probably think that's something of a mod ratding influence.
>> let me ask you about that, blake . then if the next few months bring -- we come back to the grand bargain idea and yet to somewhere like summer of 2011 and talking about a deal and republicans say they're willing to give something up on the tax expenditure side, the tax deductions , okay, 600 billion there in exchange for let's say obama put raising medicare eligibility age back on the table. change cpi . what do you think would happen within the democratic party if publicly that became the white house position?
>> that is the huge question and what happened actually interestingly didn't get a lot of attention and i'm sure s.e. will agree on this. there was a potential and is the potential to bubble up on the democratic side because what happened last time when she floated changed cpi as a proposal and democrats spoke out about it, a hit of house members, i believe the majority of house democrats spoke out against it and liberal senators circulating a petition opposing the changes and there is the potential for there to be a split within the party on this.
>> all right. blake zeff, thank you so much.
>> my pleasure.
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