Nancy Pelosi: House Democrats Won’t Accept Entitlement Cuts In Debt Deal

The Republicans have drawn a line in the sand in the debt negotiations on the issue of taxes, and now the Democrats have drawn their own line and said they will not accept any cuts in Medicare or Social Security:

After a contentious White House meeting with President Obama and other Congressional leaders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) returned to the Capitol and drew an important red line: Members of her caucus won’t vote for a grand bargain to raise the debt limit and reduce future deficits if the final deal includes cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits — and that means it probably won’t pass.

“You [asked], ‘could the changes compromise the vote?'” Pelosi said at a Thursday afternoon briefing near the House chamber. “I said yes.”

It’s widely believed that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will need Democratic votes to raise the debt limit. Democratic leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have offered to help him out — but not on Boehner’s terms alone. Pelosi has her own terms.

“We have been very clear Democrats are not supporting — House Democrats are not supporting any cuts in benefits for Social Security or Medicare,” she said.

Other top Democrats have drawn the same line in the sand, both today and in the recent past. But none with Pelosi’s clout and leverage.

Pelosi argued at her press conference that any savings wrung from Social Security and Medicare should be rerouted into strengthening those programs, not toward reducing deficits.

“Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table,” Pelosi warned. “Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.”

So we’ve got Republicans taking taxes off the table, and Democrats taking entitlements off the table. This leaves about 25% of Federal spending to deal with, and there’s simply not enough there to cut. Either both sides give in a little on their sacred cows, or we end up with a phony deal that delays the inevitable perhaps a few more years but accomplishes absolutely nothing.

In other words, business as usual.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. HankP says:

    Bravo to Pelosi. She’s the only one on the Dem side who seems to understand how to negotiate with Republicans.

  2. Oh great… now the debt ceiling negotiations have turned into a contest to see which party can be more completely unreasonable.

    We’re boned.

  3. Dan Costantino says:

    @HankP: Bravo indeed. She is obviously very good with economic policy. Look up the budget deficits through her tenure as SOH.

  4. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Hell, if Nancy sold off all of her prime Napa Valley real estate and then remitted the proceeds to the Treasury it probably would wipe out the entire deficit and the national debt too.

    In any event, Rambobama says that Social Security and Medicare are on the table. Nancy says no. I’m betting on Rambobama. Because if push comes to shove Rambobama is a killer. Literally.

  5. HankP says:

    @Dan Costantino: Yes, because the Bush tax cuts and the popping of a huge real estate bubble had nothing to do with it. But good attempt at misdirection, because I was commenting on her negotiating tactics, which I see you entirely avoided.

  6. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, because refusing to slash the last remaining shreds of the safety net for the most vulnerable of our citizens is completely unreasonable, and exactly the same as slashing taxes for billionaires.

  7. @WR:

    No, but the left’s rhetoric about entitlement reform is exactly the same as the right’s rhetoric about tax reform. As long as both take the position that any modification, however minor, on their favored issue is unacceptable, there can be no deal because there’s nothing left to negotiate about.

  8. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The left has agreed to modify entitlements — don’t you remember the Republicans screaming that “Obamacare” cut half a billion out of Medicare? Have you seen anything like that from the right on taxes?

    This is not a case of “both sides are equally guilty,” no matter how much fun it is to say that.

  9. @WR:

    The left has agreed to modify entitlements

    Yes, and I was praising them for that all last week, as well as criticizing the Republicans for refusing any similar compromise. But now comments like this by certain politicians in the House (Pelosi) and the Senate (Sanders) indicates the some portion of the left has decided to be just as intransigent as the right.

    So it wasn’t a case of “both sides are equally guilty”, but it appears to be becoming that way.

  10. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: No. Pelois et al are saying “We have already compromised while the other side has not budged; we are not going to make additional compromises while they remain completely intransigent.”

  11. anjin-san says:


    What compromise is the GOP making? “Give us what we want and we won’t crash the economy”?