AP Exaggerates Claim That 'Some' Democrats Open to Entitlement Cuts

In a November 28 article, the Associated Press tried to give cover to Democrats by insisting that they are somehow divided over cuts in entitlements to help solve the "fiscal cliff" problem. But the truth is that Democrats are virtually united against these cuts, not divided.

In its piece headlined, "It's Not Just Taxes: Benefit Cuts Divide Democrats," the AP attempted to demonstrate a "division" that doesn't exist by citing two Democrats that meekly offered to consider cuts to entitlements.

It's not just about taxes. There's another big obstacle to overcome as Congress and President Barack Obama work to skirt the fiscal cliff: deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether to consider cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

This is flat out absurd. There are no deep divisions among Democrats over cuts to these programs. In fact, just the opposite.

This tall tale goes on to present the weak claims of "considering" cuts to these programs uttered by Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana) and Kent Conrad (D, N.D.). But one, Conrad, is retiring and the other has no support from his fellows -- especially Democrat leadership -- for the idea.

Despite the AP's claims that there are "divisions" over such cuts, the real story is that Democrats have a large and growing coalition refusing to go for any cuts at all.

There were reports that Dick Durbin (D, IL), the Senate majority's number three man, made some noise about "reforming" Medicare but that suggestion did not include any cuts at all. Further he offered no actual plan, he just gave lip service to the idea of "reform" without making any substantive policy suggestions. That way he got to sound reasonable without having had the discomfort of thinking too hard about his suggestions.

Quixotically, even as its own report begins on such a false note, the AP story goes on to prove just the opposite of its starting premise saying, "But senators like Baucus and Conrad increasingly are being drowned out by other Democrats emboldened by the recent election results to fight against benefit cuts."

In any case, the false premise that the AP was trying to float was that there are Democrats other than the two they mentioned urging spending cuts, but there just aren't enough to prove "deep divisions." Having one or two or even ten saying that entitlement spending cuts should be on the table when the other 90 percent of the party says "no" does not show any such "deep divisions."


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