Democratic Coalition Fracturing over Entitlements Before Budget Talks

Image: Democratic Coalition Fracturing over Entitlements Before Budget Talks Rep. Keith Ellison.

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 09:47 AM

By Audrey Hudson

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Infighting among Democrats on the special committee formed to prevent another government shutdown has already surfaced before budget negotiations even begin to cut spending and set funding priorities by the deadline of Dec. 13, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Key Democratic lawmakers are refusing to consider cuts to entitlement programs, a proposal that was contained in President Barack Obama's budget blueprint earlier this year that would slow spending by using a different measure of inflation called the chained consumer-price index.

"The president is about to run into a major base problem [within the Democratic Party] if he tries to do this," said Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

"My advice to him is: Don't do it," Ellison said. "It's a hard 'No.'"

Republicans on the special budget panel are expected to propose significant spending cuts, while Democrats call for an additional $1 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade.

Democrats are also expected to buck cuts to Medicare and Social Security, some of which were also proposed by Obama through the change in how the government measures inflation.

"Expect a civil war within the Democratic Party if any Democrats [in] Congress think about following through on the president's proposed cuts to Social Security benefits," said Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America, a group founded by former Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

The deadline for producing the compromise budget is Dec. 13, and despite their differences, NPR reports that Democrats and Republicans on the panel are publicly showing a willingness for bipartisan compromise.

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