Multiple senior House Democratic aides tell TPM that caucus members were caught off guard by news stories about President Obama’s push for deeper deficit and spending reductions — and particularly about the White House’s willingness to cut Social Security as part of a grand bargain to raise the debt limit.
At a private caucus meeting Thursday morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her members that if Obama’s serious about putting Social Security on the chopping block, he’d left her in the dark about it. And after an at-times-contentious meeting about how open Dems should be to significant entitlement cuts, leaders departed to the White House to read Obama the riot act.
According to one top aide, both Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) intended to “deliver a message from the caucus that we definitely want to see revenues included in any package.”
Additionally, “any changes to Medicare have to be things that strengthens the program, not just a bank for tax cuts for millionaires,” and the party is broadly opposed to cutting Social Security as a means of balancing the budget.
Back at the Capitol, House progressives aligned to warn Obama and Republicans not to go too far, or they’ll lack the support to pass the plan through the House.
“Without overwhelming support from our caucus I think it will be a hard deal to pass,” said Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Obama addressed the media after the meeting and announced that staff and members will reconvene at the White House Sunday, after working through the weekend, hopefully with a framework in hand for a bill to reduce deficits and raise the national borrowing limit.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.