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Sen. Shaheen: 'Social Security off the table' in debt talks


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wants to “take Social Security off the table” in fiscal cliff negotiations—an indication as to where Democrats are drawing the line.

Shaheen agreed that Social Security is what msnbc’s Chris Jansing called “an absolute nonstarter” in these deliberations.

“Social Security has not contributed to the debt and the deficits. We do need to fix it for the long-term, but that’s a different discussion,” Shaheen said.

The senator did acknowledge the need to “put aside all of the sacred cows” and consider domestic programs, defense spending, and taxes in order to come up with a balanced plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. She also noted that the long-term cost of healthcare will contribute to the national debt and therefore should be considered.

Republicans, on the other hand, are claiming compromise by rejecting Grover Norquist’s tax pledge, but won’t allow the top tax rate to rise to 39.5% (as it was in the 1990s). Democrats like Shaheen argue that if the government must cut spending to programs that primarily benefit the middle class, then it is fair to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Though a tax hike on the rich wouldn’t close the deficit, Warren Buffett maintains that it would be beneficial to the morale of the middle class.