ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
After meeting with the president and congressional leadership at the White House earlier Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats “are not supporting any cuts in benefits for Social Security or Medicare” and that any savings potentially gained from entitlement reform should be used to make the programs stronger.
“We do not support cuts in benefits for Social Security and Medicare. Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “You want to take a look at Social Security then look at it on its own table, but do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.”
Pelosi, who called the meeting “very constructive and productive,” did not rule out Medicare reform as part of an eventual deal to increase the debt limit as long as the changes do not reduce benefits – telling reporters that her goal “is to have a balanced bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit without doing harm to the economy.”
“It’s very important that we remove all doubt in anyone’s mind that we will not default on past debt,” Pelosi said. “This isn’t about leaving room for future spending. That’s not what this is about. It’s about paying past debt.”
Pelosi is scheduled to meet with the president one-on-one tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. at the White House.
“The president wants a bipartisan bill and I think that the Democrats stand ready to help with the grand bargain but we want to do so without hurting our seniors and people with disabilities,” she added.
Pelosi revealed that the objective of the White House meeting was not to strike a final deal, but rather for lawmakers to establish “a definition of our terms so that we know when we have reached success and not move the goal posts.”
“I thought it would be really important for us to define our terms. What is the baseline? Is it January 2011, is that the baseline? What is the length of time? Is it 10 years or is it 12 years?” Pelosi said. “If there is a – some kind of a cap on discretionary spending, are there firewalls between domestic versus defense spending so that we don’t run into a situation where there are no defense cuts, and they’re all domestic discretionary.”
Asked whether she agreed with House Speaker John Boehner that a deal could possibly be reached in the next 48 hours, Pelosi signaled she was also optimistic both sides could soon come to an agreement.
“I’m glad to hear that [Boehner] said that,” Pelosi said. “I certainly hope so.”