Thursday, December 6, 2012

CA Teetering On the Edge of The Fiscal Cliff: Garamendi and Villaraigosa Offer Starkly Different Visions

When it comes to the co-called Fiscal Cliff, the approach of two California Progressive Politicians couldn't be more different.

While Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa continues to defend his association with the right-wing lobbying group Campaign To Fix the Debt, CA Congressman John Garamendi had a far stronger message for our most vulnerable Californians.

"I'm not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff."

In an op-ed published at Calitics, Garamendi strongly defended the social safety net and made no bones about how it's Republicans who want to use the current budget negotiations in DC to shred it.

I want to vote for a comprehensive bipartisan plan to address the fiscal cliff. I'm willing to take a tough vote. I'm willing to make sacrifices. I'm willing to feel the heat. But I'm not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff. I draw the line at cutting benefits in Medicare and Social Security.

This week, House Republicans unveiled their fiscal cliff counter-proposal. While they continue to call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they propose offsetting this cost by gutting Medicare benefits, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. I won't go there. As California's Insurance Commissioner for eight years, I know this would be horrible policy, throwing millions of seniors into the rapacious hands of an insurance industry interested only in profits for its shareholders.

Medicare is a promise we made to seniors more than four decades ago. When President Johnson signed Medicare into law, one in three seniors lived in poverty. Half of seniors had no health coverage at all. Today, less than one in ten seniors live in poverty and almost all have guaranteed access to affordable coverage. With medical expenses as high as they are, that's a remarkable improvement, and we have Medicare and Social Security principally to thank for it.

Contrast this with Villaraigosa, who told CNN "I am a Democrat and a progressive, but you know what? The country is evenly divided. They won too," Villaraigosa said. "We've got to work together."

The petition to demand Villaraigosa step down from the Campaign to Fix The Debt is up to 11, 545 signatures as of noon today. If you haven't already signed it, go to this link.

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