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Changes to Social Security are not in the cards in fiscal cliff artifice talks, if White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Senate Democratic leadership are to be believed. And it shouldn't be, since, as they say, it doesn't contribute at all to the deficit. That's very positive forward motion.

Here's more positive news, from Greg Sargent, on raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

But as best as I can determine after talking to Dem aides, this isn’t on the table. It’s something Republicans want to be part of the talks but not one Dems are seriously entertaining, at least for now. Dick Durbin and other Democrats have repeatedly said raising the retirement age is off the table. Obama reportedly signaled openness to it during the 2011 debt ceiling talks, so if some on the left still want to be vigilant about this possibility, it’s understandable—after all, ultimately Dems will likely fall in line behind what Obama wants in the end. But keep in mind Obama was in a significantly weaker position last time and may not see the need to make that concession now.
That the talk about holding a line against this benefit cut is coming from Durbin could be a strong indication that President Obama is abandoning this idea floated during his grand bargain talks with Boehner back in 2011, and Durbin is Obama's closest ally in the Congress. He makes a very good point:
“To think that a person would retire at the age of 64 or 65 and not have Medicare coverage until 67 raises the obvious question: These people in their mid-60s, probably with a health history, will find it difficult to buy health insurance on the open market or afford whatever is available,” Durbin said. “I want to make sure there are no gaps in coverage for those who need it the most: retired Americans who have a health history and can’t find affordable health insurance. So … let us make certain that there are insurance exchanges, good competition, and affordable health care available for those seniors.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi takes a similar position against this change, as has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This hard line, along with the unified demand from Democrats that Republicans put up their own ideas on entitlement cuts, seems to indicate that the Democrats know they've got the leverage in this negotiating process. And they might just be united in using it.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and Daily Kos.

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