Rep. Bill Owens is one of 100 signatories on a letter saying that "all options... are on the table" for a panel of legislators looking to hack more than $1 trillion from the nation's $14 trillion deficit.
Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, joined a slew of Democrats and Republicans in signing the letter. Whether or not the super committee can actually achieve its goal is an open question; America's credit rating, already once downgraded because of an inability of both parties to work together, could hang in the balance.
So saying that "all options" for revenue and spending are on the table is a telling position. It seems to mean that Democrats would be open to cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and Republicans would be open to raising taxes.
I asked a spokesman for Mr. Owens whether this meant that his boss was open to such cuts. Sean Magers made a distinction between cuts to the programs, and cuts to beneficiaries.
"To say it should be part of the discussion is not advocating for cuts to beneficiaries. It means we should look at ways to save money," Mr. Magers said.
For Medicare, that includes: negotiating prescription drug prices, buttressing electronic medical records and promoting preventative care, he said.
"For some reason people think you can only find savings in these programs by cutting benefits. That is not the case," Mr. Magers said.
We'll see similar tightrope-walking from all political corners as politicians try to reckon with the fact that the nation can't really afford these programs that people don't want to change.
Mr. Owens' likely opponent in November 2012, Republican Matt Doheny, probably wouldn't have signed on to this letter. He's adamantly opposed to any tax increase, and this letter puts "revenues" on the table.
Mr. Doheny also supports changes to the Medicare and Social Security programs, but hasn't detailed how he would do so (he has declined to endorse Paul Ryan route, for example).
Here's the letter in full:
JSC Letter - Final