What's on the Chopping Block, and Who's Holding the Line (Or Not)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised that the House Democrats named to the committee prescribed by the debt ceiling plan and tasked with reducing the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion will oppose cuts to the social safety net:
"That is a priority for us," Pelosi said. "But let me say it is more than a priority - it is a value... it's an ethic for the American people. It is one that all of the members of our caucus share. So that I know that whoever's at that table will be someone who will fight to protect those benefits."
It is, of course, qualified good news, because this country is going to hell in a handbasket Pelosi is willing to support cuts "to provider payments, waste and other Medicare spending," which, as I've mentioned previously, can still affect Medicare beneficiaries when cutting payments to providers could leave them unable to find any providers willing to accept Medicare patients. Medicare's reimbursement schedule already routinely leaves providers underpaid, and rejections for Medicare patients have been steadily rising for more than a decade as a result.

And then there's this: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will also appoint three members to the committee. And if even a single one of them is willing to cut into Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, then Pelosi's efforts won't really matter—the committee's report can be approved by a bare majority of its 12 members. But if Reid and Pelosi play this smart, they could create a sturdy firewall."

It is incredible and terrifying and infuriating to me that so few people, possibly as few as one, will hold in their hands the power to protect or dismantle the social safety net.

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