Micheal McAuliff and Jennifer Bendery, of Huffington Post, are reporting Fiscal Cliff: GOP Gives In On Social Security Cuts In Stalled Talks, quoting Senator John McCain saying "we can't win an argument that has Social Security for seniors versus taxes for the rich.” This is just for the mini-deal, they may bring it back for a "grander bargain" later or in the debt-ceiling negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Senators can go home for tonight, but should return by 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, although the floor is still open for speeches.
"CPI has to be off the table because it's not a winning argument to say benefits for seniors versus tax breaks for rich people," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "We need to take CPI off the table -- that's not part of the negotiations -- because we can't win an argument that has Social Security for seniors versus taxes for the rich.”
"There's a realization that in spite of the president's apparent endorsement of a chained CPI that that proposal deserves more study," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). "My guess, based on what Democrats are saying is that that reform would not happen during this stage of the negotiations." ...
"We do expect it to be part of the debt ceiling negotiations," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), in a signal that extending the nation's borrowing limit -- which the United States has nearly reached -- will not be part of any imminent deal.
"Chained CPI would be to stabilize Social Security," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said. "That's not the way it's being portrayed, and therefore I think it should be dropped. And I think all the Republicans agreed to that."
Senator Hutchison said both parties have agreed on extending the Bush tax cuts at some level "below the $400,000 or $500,000 threshold." She says the major sticking point now is the Democratic proposal to impose a two year moratorium on sequestration cuts, but taking advantage of additional tax revenues immediately.
This is sort of fun and surprising to see Democrats remaining so tough in negotiations and seeming to win, or at least make progress. But, let's not count our chickens yet.
Yet, this does lend credence to those who have urged Democrats to remain resolute, and who predicted that if we correctly frame many of these issues, on a case-by-case basis, we may be able to achieve a better outcome. Even several Republicans have predicted if President Obama puts the pure $250,000 tax cut for the middle class up for a vote after January 1, Republicans will have no choice but to go along. Perhaps we can even pass this with the extension of extended unemployment benefits, and the Medicare "doctor's fix?"
3:43 PM PT: And, we get a second source confirmation of this story from Erik Wasson, of The Hill in GOP senators backing away from Social Security demand, where he reports:
GOP senators on Sunday backed away from demanding that cuts to Social Security benefits be included in any “fiscal cliff” deal. ...
But after a conference meeting, GOP lawmakers made clear they were not insisting on the measure.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Social Security cuts are all but off the table. She said that the issue would be "a part of a larger debate,” later in 2013 when Congress considers raising the debt-ceiling limit.
"It's safe to say that chained CPI will not be a part of … [the GOP's] proposal. … We'll leave that for a later day, which I'm pleased about because I'm not a fan of affecting those currently on Social Security, especially the more elderly," said Snowe.