As you probably know, there is a small war going on among members of the congressional GOP. One faction wants to shutdown the government until the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is either repealed or defunded (which would amount to the same thing. Another faction thinks that won't work, and would just hurt them in the 2014 election (because most Americans don't want to see the government shut down).
This second faction has a stronger grip on reality. President Obama is not about to agree to repeal or defund Obamacare -- his premiere piece of legislation. If the GOP continues on this path, then the government would be shut down, once again hurting the federal credit rating and affecting economies across the world.
Speaker of the House Boehner knows this, and he has come up with an alternate plan. Instead of trying to defund Obamacare when the debt ceiling must be addressed again (which will happen about the middle of October), Boehner wants to use the threat of a government shutdown to force cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
He believes he might actually be able to accomplish this -- since Democrats have given in on substantial budget cuts in the past (remember sequestration?), and even President Obama has proposed a chained CPI (which is fancy language for cuts to Social Security and other mandatory spending programs).
I hope Boehner is wrong, and the Democrats will refuse to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I hope they will take their case to the people, and make sure everyone knows that the GOP wants to cut these programs -- because huge majorities of Americans don't want these programs cut. They should just make sure the heat falls of the Republicans, even if it means a short shutdown of the government. The congressional GOP will eventually cave.
These are good programs that work just as they were supposed to work. But the benefits they offer are not real generous, and it would hurt millions of Americans to cut those benefits even a little bit. The Republicans will try to convince us that the government can't afford these programs, and if they are not cut they will go broke. That's a lie. The programs have some financial problems because the politicians have been raiding those trust funds to pay for other things (like tax cuts for the rich and unnecessary wars). It's time for those politicians to pay that money back -- even if it means raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
The government doesn't have a spending problem. It has a revenue problem, and that problem needs to be fixed. But cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid should be off the table completely. It's just wrong to punish the elderly and the poor to keep the rich from paying a little more in taxes (which would probably still be less than they paid during the Reagan administration), and to keep letting giant corporations making billions pay no taxes at all.