While Republicans in the House and Senate have been declaring for weeks that they won’t support any type of tax increase as part of a debt-limit deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi drew her own line in the sand Thursday: House Democrats won’t support cuts in benefits to Social Security or Medicare as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling.
After meeting at the White House with President Obama and other congressional leaders, Pelosi told reporters that changes to Social Security and Medicare should be on their own “table,” and that any savings from those programs should be used to strengthen those programs, not used to finance a debt deal.
“Democrats stand ready to help with that grand bargain but we want to do so without hurting our seniors and people with disabilities,” Pelosi said.
Her comments are a reminder that some votes from House Democrats will likely be necessary to pass a bipartisan deal on the reducing the deficit and raising the debt limit. The number of Democratic votes that will be needed depends entirely on how many Tea Party-backed and conservative Republicans buck Speaker Boehner and refuse to support a debt-limit hike. It is also a reminder that not only does President Obama have to consider the anti-tax line from Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, but also the fact that his party might revolt against big entitlement changes as well.
Pelosi also shed some light on the nature of Thursday’s meeting, saying that the group discussed the scope of the deal the parties would like to pursue and to define the terms of an agreement: when would the baseline for any savings start? Over how many years would they count those savings?
“Do we want to think big? Yes, I think we all want to think big about how we can reduce the deficit and never have ourselves placed in a situation like this again,” Pelosi said.
The next White House debt limit talk is scheduled for Sunday.