Can't stop, won't stop. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is determined to advance his own career at the expense of middle-class Americans -- so much so that he's ignoring political common sense and the desires of most Americans, including most Republicans. Hoyer insists on pursuing an agenda of draconian cuts to the programs that provide Americans with health care and financial security when they become old or disabled.
A request from grassroots organizations was met with a response that, if read between the lines, confirms Hoyer's intention to pursue a "grand bargain" between center-right Democrats and far-right Republicans that includes steep cuts to Social Security as well as meat-cleaver cuts to Medicare benefits.
That's one side of the fight. On the other side is the American people. Only 12 percent of the electorate supports Social Security cuts, according to a new poll, and only 22 percent endorse cuts to Medicare. How many polls like this (there have been dozens) will it take to convince Hoyer's fellow Democrats to stop him from taking the party on a suicide mission against older Americans?
As Minority Whip, Hoyer is the #2 Democrat in Congress. As we outlined last week, Hoyer is the living incarnation of the Corporate Party -- that "bipartisan" breed of cash-fueled politico who lives to serve the corporations and wealthy individuals who are his largest donors.
Hoyer's gone on record in favor of drastic cuts to Social Security and Medicare -- including raising the eligibility age to 70 -- a move which undoubtedly helped the Republicans win back the House in 2010. Hoyer's last assault on these programs was one of the reasons that disingenous Republicans were able to position themselves as the defenders of these programs, when in fact they've been pursuing Hoyer-like cuts for a long time.
The Republicans' failed attempt to privatize Social Security in 2005 left them vulnerable on this issue, and the financial crisis illustrated just how foolish an idea it was -- and how unwise it would be to trust the Wall Street bankers who would have managed seniors' money in private accounts. But that advantage was neutralized by Blue Dog Dems like Hoyer, and now he's at it again.
That doesn't mean Hoyer's a GOP Manchurian Candidate, even though it may seem that way. After all, his last assault on Social Security took place during the last election cycle and he's back at it again this time around.
But it doesn't take a conspiracy theory to understand why. Hoyer's biggest contributors are precisely the kinds of corporations that would benefit from cuts of this kind. Banks, insurers and wealthy individuals are his largest donors, and only 1 percent of his enormous campaign war chest comes from small donors.
Hoyer's latest equivocation on his "grand bargain" came as the result of an inquiry by CREDO Action. This was the response from his office:
"Mr. Hoyer was clear that we need to take action on long-term deficit reduction to avoid the crippling effects that sequestration will have on domestic programs -- including Medicare -- starting next year," says his communications director Katie Grant. "We should do so in a balanced way that includes significant new revenues, ensuring that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share so that we can continue to invest in the programs that help the most vulnerable among us."
I don't know about you, but I'll take that as a "yes" -- but that he'll do it in a way that gives him political cover with nominal tax increases that will, in all likelihood, be misdirected toward the same middle class that would suffer as a result of these cuts.
CREDO Action has created a "call Rep. Hoyer" campaign to press him on this issue. 82 percent of the voting public will want to pressure him on the issue. Partisan Democrats who don't want to increase the likelihood of more losses in 2012 will undoubtedly want to do the same.
In the meantime, the Hoyer anti-elderly machine rolls on, in service to no one but Hoyer, his pals in both parties, and the Corporatist Party they all serve.