Bruised from their fight over the fiscal cliff, Republicans in Congress haven't made much of a secret of their plan for revenge. When the debt ceiling comes up for debate in the next few months, they have shown every indication that they will once again hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. The ransom: significant cuts in the Social Security and Medicare benefits millions of working Americans have spent a lifetime paying for.
As Democrats in Congress, we need to be ready and willing to take on this fight to protect the benefits that our seniors have earned. We need courage. And conviction.
We need Barney Frank.
When John Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State, Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick will need to make an interim appointment to fill the seat until a special election is held later this year. Maybe there are times when that sort of placeholder appointment is more of an honor than anything else. And there are certainly times when it's done to put someone in a better position to run for election to fill the seat. But after retiring from more than 30 years in the House last week, Barney has no intention of starting a new career in the Senate. And the issues that Congress will debate in the next few months -- the debt ceiling, Social Security and Medicare, cuts to defense spending and domestic programs -- couldn't be more serious.
Barney's position on protecting Social Security couldn't be more clear. Right now income over $110,000 isn't subject to Social Security taxes, but Barney has proposed also taxing earnings from $250,000 to $450,000.
And when it comes to the debt ceiling, I don't think Barney will hesitate to use the experience and knowledge he gained as the chairman of the Financial Services Committee to make the case that playing politics will only damage the economy and risk our credit rating.
One of the first Members of Congress I met when I was first elected in 2008 was Barney Frank. Barney's partner (and now husband) Jim lives in my district, and I was fortunate enough to come to know them both well. Barney's intelligence, his skill and the amazing institutional knowledge he gained from over thirty years in the House made him an effective representative for the people of his District. And his determination and conviction have made him a champion for progressive values.
Barney's advice was invaluable to me, a freshman Member of Congress. And I know it would be equally invaluable to Elizabeth Warren, as she learns the ropes in Congress.