Political Animal


August 02, 2011 3:25 PM Protecting Medicaid

By Steve Benen

The list of discouraging elements in the debt-ceiling agreement is plenty long, but there are a handful of provisions that help it from being a total disaster. Among them is the fact that the “trigger” cordons off Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare beneficiaries.

This came as something of a relief, especially given the Republican efforts to gut Medicaid, with drastic consequences for seniors and low-income families.

There are a few good behind-the-scenes accounts published today on how Sunday’s deal came together, but Politico’s report included an interesting tidbit on this.

Progress was made, but the atmosphere was tense as the hours slipped toward the deadline. By Saturday night, discussions over the trigger had bogged down, and a call between McConnell’s staff and senior White House aides turned heated when GOP negotiators demanded that Medicaid be added to the mix of programs that could face cuts.

Gene Sperling, chairman of Obama’s National Economic Council, was in mid-sentence, trying to calmly explain why the White House wouldn’t allow that, when Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew interrupted.

“No!” the typically mild-mannered Lew yelled. “The answer is simply no! No, no!”

The White House didn’t draw enough lines in the sand, and in a few instances, didn’t stick to the lines in the sand even after they were drawn.

But at least in this case, the president’s team took a stand in support of Medicaid, and I’m glad. Given the likelihood with which the trigger will be pulled, this decision very likely made a huge difference in the health care needs of millions.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:40 PM:

    Poor guy. He seems like the administration's punching bag. The Senate lit into him the other day, even screaming. Unfortunately, I do not believe him. The GOP are expert at hostage taking. He has no credibility when it comes to playing hardball.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:42 PM:

    I hope I am wrong. What about Medicare, is that off the table too?

  • SYSPROG on August 02, 2011 3:59 PM:

    Jack Lew is my new hero. That's what we need. An in your face maniac SCREAMING at the morons...I do that at the TV every night but unfortunately, they don't seem to hear.

  • June on August 02, 2011 4:08 PM:

  • c u n d gulag on August 02, 2011 4:20 PM:

    I'm 53, and my 85 year old Dad need to remind me all of the time to stop talking back and yelling at the TV, that they can't hear me.

    I tell him it's ok, since I really don't want to listen to them, either...

  • SYSPROG on August 02, 2011 4:25 PM:

    c u n d gulag ...I hear you. I'm your age and my kids look seriously worried when they remind me that there are no little people sitting inside the TV box to hear me. I tell them they can put in my obituary that I was a screaming LIBERAL.

  • rayspace on August 02, 2011 4:29 PM:

    Don't worry. Even if the Administration did stand firm on Medicaid cuts, Glenn Greenwald will find something wrong with how they said it.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on August 02, 2011 4:34 PM:

    Anybody want to bet on how long that protection of Medicaid will last?

  • DAY on August 02, 2011 4:56 PM:

    Call me confused. From the videos I have seen of Tea Partiers, they are heavy users of medicare, SS, medicaid, scooter chairs and mental health outreach clinics.

    Are they SURE they want to eliminate all of that? Along with senior discounts on bus and movie tickets and the "Early Bird Special"?

  • Sam Simple on August 02, 2011 5:08 PM:

    And progressives are supposed to feel good about this? That's like telling a woman who was just raped that she should feel good that she wasn't spit on too.

  • Alli on August 02, 2011 5:41 PM:

    @SAM: WTH? Enough with the rape analogy's. They are disgusting and sexist. Furthermore, this is exactly the type of crap you guys drool over. If this story was about Bernie or Pelosi, you'd be jerking off right now. But since its the administration and it disproves the LIE that Obama hates the poor, you create some visual that Obama is raping you. Enough!!

    @Live or Die: Color me shocked. The left asks for this type of rhetoric and dismiss it as soon as they hear it.

    I see why so many AA's call you guys racist. your reasons for disliking Obama gets more illogical every day.