Nancy Pelosi will be prepared to beat back a run on Social Security or Medicare if the deficit commission recommends cuts to the popular entitlement program following the November election. The House Speaker deliberately avoided appointing House chairmen with jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare to President Obama’s commission, House staffers involved with the commission tell HuffPost, so that she could retain the option to sidetrack the panel’s recommendations.
Pelosi appointed Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.), Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.). Becerra is a member of Pelosi’s leadership and a close ally. Schakowsky is also a progressive ally of Pelosi’s.
If the commission recommends cuts to Social Security or Medicare, the Speaker would have the option of referring the recommendations to the Ways and Means Committee. None of the chairs of the committees or subcommittees with jurisdiction over Social Security or Medicare are on the deficit panel.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over Social Security and health care, is on the panel, as is Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), though Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Health, Education, & Labor Committee, is not on the panel.
Pelosi worried Social Security advocates earlier this year by bringing a resolution to the floor indicating that it was the sense of the House that the panel’s recommendations get an up or down vote. The resolution is not binding.
Pelosi, in an interview Tuesday with HuffPost said that if the commission tried to balance the budget by raising the Social Security retirement age “it would get a very negative response.”