Liberals urge Obama not to cut Medicare, Social Security

President Obama poses for photographers in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington after he spoke regarding the budget and averted government shutdown after a deal was made between Republican and Democrat lawmakers, April 8, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Barack Obama
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As President Obama prepares to deliver a speech tomorrow to compare his own ideas for deficit reduction with the House Republicans' proposed 2012 budget, liberal grassroots activists are urging the president to preserve programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Multiple liberal grassroots organizations are mobilizing their supporters to urge the president to avoid making any calls tomorrow for scaling back entitlement programs. Already angered by the sweeping 2011 budget cuts Mr. Obama agreed to with congressional Republicans in order to avoid a government shutdown, liberals argue the GOP has moved the president's agenda too far to the right.

The liberal group MoveOn.org sent an email to its supporters today, urging them to call the White House in advance of the president's speech and tell Mr. Obama that "he needs to lay out a truly progressive proposal that strengthens the middle class and makes the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share."

The email follows a survey sent to 15,000 MoveOn members, which found widespread opposition among respondents to the budget deal struck last week, cutting $38.5 billion from this year's budget. This type of survey, of course, is self-selecting, and it differs from a new CNN poll showing that most self-identified liberals said they approved of the budget deal and do not believe Democrats conceded too much in the deal. Voters who choose to respond to such polls, however, can give insight into the views of a party's most engaged supporters.

Now as the battle over the 2011 budget draws to a close, the House is prepared to take up debate on a 2012 budget plan put forward by Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The plan promises to cut $389 billion in Medicare expenses over 10 years, largely by indexing the growth of Medicare to inflation. And starting in 2022, seniors entering Medicare would be given limited "premium support" to cover the cost of coverage from private insurers instead of the current government-run health coverage.

In his speech tomorrow, the White House says Mr. Obama will respond to Ryan's plan with his own agenda for deficit reduction, addressing the need to control entitlement spending and raise some taxes (namely, letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire). White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the president's bipartisan deficit commission, which released a controversial proposal last year for deficit reduction, laid a "framework" for a discussion on the issue.

The deficit commission -- which ultimately put forward its own suggestions for entitlement changes, among other things -- was opposed since its beginning by liberal activists interested in protecting entitlements.

Now that the White House is signaling Mr. Obama may, in fact, embrace some of the commission's ideas, liberal activists are again expressing outrage.

"This is exactly the wrong way to fix the budget, and the wrong way to start negotiating with Republicans," the MoveOn email says of the deficit commission's proposals.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent its supporters an email today, urging them to sign a petition reading, "President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I'm going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates -- not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts."

The group has culled critical comments from former Obama campaign volunteers and donors regarding the president's anticipated speech.

"I know he has to compromise sometimes, but it seems that he is caving to the Republicans far too often," said Suzanne Fair, an Obama volunteer from Maryland. "We elected him for real change and I would like to see him stand strong against the corporate rich."

Campaign for America's Future, another liberal group, is running a similar petition urging the president to avoid Medicare and Social Security cuts.

"Cuts to these essential benefits will destroy the economy and your re-election campaign," the petition reads. "Don't do it."

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