Lessons from Today’s Trade Drama: Hands Off Medicare
With more drama and theatrics than your average reality TV show the House today rejected legislation that would cut $950 million from Medicare to pay for a trade provision. The majority of Democrats correctly opposed the legislation, in spite of the President’s heavy lobbying for their support:
Obama spent roughly 45 minutes with Democratic lawmakers, taking no questions but telling his party to “vote your values,” according to a source in the room.
But Democratic lawmakers rebuffed him hours later, voting overwhelmingly to scuttle the trade package that was a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had remained silent for weeks on the trade issue, went to the House floor shortly before the vote to speak against the free trade deal.
“Whatever the deal is with other countries,” she said, “we want a better deal for America’s workers.”
The House could re-vote on TAA next week. House Republican leaders say they have 100 votes for that bill, and Democrats need to provide 118. On Friday, Democrats provided 40, while 86 Republicans supported it. In other words, Democrats would need to essentially triple their their vote total to pass the measure. Dems Deal President Huge Defeat – Politico
However, in the House nothing is ever simple and that vote isn’t the end of the story. NCPSSM has urged Members of Congress there is one important lesson from today’s drama – Hands Off Medicare.
“In spite of all the political sleight of hand and twisting of the legislative process into a pretzel to pass the trade package, there is one clear lesson today: Medicare does not belong in the trade debate. Period. Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation failed in large part because it was burdened with a pay-for the American people simply do not support. American workers deserve to have job training assistance through reauthorization of the TAA; however, demanding that important proposal be paid for by cutting $950 million dollars from Medicare poisoned the process.
Using Medicare to fund unrelated programs is a relatively new yet growing trend in Congress that simply must stop. Medicare isn’t Washington’s ATM. The American people understand this. Hopefully, Members of Congress have learned that lesson and won’t make the same mistake again when the trade debate resumes.” …Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO