Representatives Ron Kind (D., Wis.) and Jim Himes (D., Conn.) appeared on "Morning Joe" to field questions on entitlement reform Monday morning.
Both Congressmen are members of the self described moderate "New Democrat Coalition," an organization they characterized as committed to increasing dialogue among Democrats to promote entitlement reform.
However, as the panel's questions became more pointed regarding specific reforms like Chained CPI or raising the Medicare eligibility age, Himes and Kind were increasingly vague and evasive, raising the ire of Joe Scarborough:
JIM HIMES: Let me clarify something. Steve said he would assume all of us would jump on board with Chained CPI. I'm not sure that is true. But what we would do as "New Democrats" is say "look, what are we trying to do here?" Chained CPI might actually reduce the cost of living adjustments for a widow living on $15,000 a year. How do we feel about that? On the other hand it could change the cost of living adjustment for something with $5 million a year. How do we feel about that? That is the decision we want to have rather than taking the sort of , you know, uncompromising no way my way or the highway stands on any proposal.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: But on two issues that we have brought up, you've pushed back on raising retirement age and appear to be pushing back even on a position the president has taken on Chained CPI.
JIM HIMES: I don't think we are pushing back on either. Raising the retirement age. If you asked me to work an extra year, I wear a tie and sit at a desk and probably can pull that off. What about a firefighter who carries 60 pounds of gear up a ladder? This is the discussion we have to have. If we don't find ways to broaden the discussion we are not getting a deal done.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Why is this stuff so hard, some of this stuff is pretty basic, isn't it?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The numbers don't add up.