Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said Monday there is "absolute unity" within the party over entitlement programs as congressional leaders head to the White House to resolve the partisan standoff over cutting the deficit and raising the federal debt ceiling.
President Obama pushed last week for a package to cut the deficit by $4 trillion with a combination of spending cuts and tax reforms, a "grand bargain" that could also include entitlement reforms. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insisted that Democrats would not agree to any plan to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits.
On CNN’s American Morning, Israel dispelled talk of fragmentation within the Democratic Party over the issue and returned to the plan by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to restructure Medicare. "There is absolute unity within the Democratic Party. No Democrat is talking about cutting entitlements, cutting Medicare, asking seniors to pay more," he said. "We’re willing to negotiate reforming Medicare, strengthening Medicare, improving Medicare. We will not negotiate the Ryan plan that ends Medicare. We will not negotiate the privatization of Social Security."
The Republicans haven’t talked about reducing entitlement programs, Israel said: "They have talked about ending Medicare. There's a difference between make some reforms and simply saying to seniors, 'You're going to pay an extra $6,200 because we're going to privatize it, give you a voucher, and you're on your own.' Huge difference between the two."
House Speaker John Boehner, citing disagreements over taxes, closed the door on talks for a broader deal this weekend and called for Obama and congressional leaders to develop a smaller bargain. “There are some people who want a grand bargain, there are some people who want a baby bargain, we just want a fair bargain," Israel said. "And I’m hopeful that we can get there by the end of the day."