NOW to Dems: Don’t Make Deals With Our Fiscal Future

Democrats, repeat after me: No deals. NO deals. NO DEALS.

The same voters who re-elected President Obama and increased the Democratic presence in Congress are pleased to see that you aren’t negotiating with yourselves before you even get to the table. Now show us you won’t make any concessions to the Grover Norquist anti-tax acolytes.

Negotiation and bipartisanship sound like nice concepts, but not when they produce policies that harm the middle class, the poor and our nation’s economy. As the president of the National Organization for Women, I am particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact the anticipated “compromises” would have on women, who are the majority of minimum wage workers, have a far higher poverty rate than men, and are decidedly not overrepresented amongst billionaires.

All this hand wringing over the “fiscal cliff” might make for good political theater, but you know full well that it’s a self-imposed choice between bad and worse. And it is within your power to hold out for a better option — one that will lead this country toward prosperity.

You’ve seen the polls: The people of this country don’t want Congress messing with Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. This includes changes such as upping the eligibility age for Medicare. Why are we even discussing proposals like altering how cost-of-living adjustments are calculated in Social Security? The “chained CPI” is not an appropriate tool to measure seniors’ expenses. Let’s face it, this switcheroo wouldn’t have been suggested in the first place if it didn’t reduce benefits. But we know that short-changing retirees puts them at greater risk of rationing their medication or even food. This part of the debate should be shut down immediately.

What the 99 percent want is for the rich to pay their fair share. If those in the one percent want to earn the vast majority of income and hold the vast majority of wealth in this country, then they owe something back to the people who make their affluence possible.

The 99 percent also want jobs that pay decent wages. Actually, they need jobs that pay decent wages. Our nation cannot afford for so many people to be out of work for long stretches. It’s costly to have high unemployment. And you don’t fix unemployment by stiffing middle- and lower-income folks. Talk about kicking the can down the road! Denying benefits to hard-working people who need them is not productive — it’s a dangerous form of denial that will always come back to haunt you.

Let’s leave the remake of Les Misérables to Hollywood. This country works best when its people are thriving and producing. Don’t sell them out. Invest in the 99 percent, and the payoff will be immense.

Originally published on Terry O’Neill’s Huffington Post blog on 12/07/2012

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