The Washington Post set off a political firestorm earlier this week when it reported that President Obama will reportedly be seeking changes to Social Security as part of a wider debt ceiling deal with Congress.
This morning, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hosted a press call with reporters about their opposition to including Social Security and Medicare in debt ceiling negotiations. ThinkProgress asked Sanders if he thinks including regressive cuts to these programs in a debt ceiling deal would hurt Obama politically and what tactics he would be willing to use to stop such a deal. He said that including such cuts would “obviously” hurt President Obama in the next election and that he would do “everything” that he can to defeat such a package.
At another point in the call, a Washington Post reporter asked Sanders if he’s convinced that a debt deal that includes Social Security would be unable to pass the Senate. Sanders responded by saying that senators have told him that they are not willing to vote for a “piece of crap” deal and that the White House is in for a “serious surprise” if it expects the Senate to approve any package it hands down:
REPORTER: In your view, if this debt limit deal includes any changes in Social Security, are you convinced that that will not be able to pass the Senate?
SANDERS: Again, it’s hard for us to talk about 99 other people. But I think there really is a disconnect, and I think Sheldon made this point when he was speaking, between what the White House is doing and rest of the Senate. What I can say is that I have heard, including from people that you might not expect to hear it from, that if they bring from the Senate a piece of crap which really comes down heavy on working families, and the elderly, and the sick, and the children, and they expect me to matter of factly vote for it, they have another thing coming. So I think the White House is for a serious surpise if they think everybody in the Democratic caucus is going to willy nilly follow the President and vote for anything he brings forth.
Listen to it:
A recent Pew poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits intact than to reduce the deficit.