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Senior Citizen Politics

Speaker Boehner Moves the Target for Super Budget Cutters to Social Security

Republicans say 'no' to tax hikes but will consider Medicare price increases

Nov. 1, 2011 – Many senior citizens bolstered by advertising and lobbying efforts by AARP and other advocacy groups to protect Social Security and Medicare, may have been lulled into a sleep by the secretive discussions of the super panel considering how to balance the U.S. budget. The gloves came off yesterday, however, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to move the bulls eye squarely on to Social Security and other senior entitlement programs.


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"Everyone knows we can't solve the debt crisis without making structural changes to our entitlement programs. You know it. I know it. President Obama knows it," Boehner said yesterday to University of Louisville students.

"Nothing — nothing — would send a more reassuring message to the markets than taking bipartisan steps to fix the structural problems in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."

A report on the speech in POLITICO by Jake Sherman and Manu Raju led with, “As a critical deadline for the supercommittee nears, Social Security appears to be on the negotiating table.

“In private conversations, and now in public, the idea of changing the social program as part of a deficit-reduction deal is gaining some traction — a move that has been politically unthinkable for years.”

“In private conversations, and now in public, the idea of changing the social program as part of a deficit-reduction deal is gaining some traction — a move that has been politically unthinkable for years.” POLITICO

The POLITICO reporters added, “…Boehner appeared to raise the stakes on a grand bargain that would include major entitlement changes.”

The Associated Press story on the speech said, “Boehner's remarks came as the secretive 12-member bipartisan panel remains deadlocked less than a month before its deadline.

“Democrats say tax revenues are a precursor to any agreement to curb spending on costly benefits programs like Medicare. Republicans insist the supercommittee focus on cutting spending and that new revenues should come from proposals like raising Medicare premiums, asking federal workers to contribute more toward their pensions and through the economic growth associated with reforming the tax code.”

This was one of the first reports that Republicans are suggesting to the bi-partisian committee that “new revenues should come from proposals like raising Medicare premiums.”

AP reporter Andrew Taylor added, “Last week, Democrats offered a plan to cut the deficit by about $3 trillion over the coming decade, including $1.3 trillion in increased tax revenue. Republicans countered with a $2.2 trillion plan free of tax hikes but heavier on cuts to Medicare beneficiaries.”

The committee is scheduled to report is findings in 21 days. The Congressional Budget Office has also said it need to see the report for budgetary scoring in early November, according to POLITICO.

Alliances Form Among Super Committee Members

Reports from other media

Nov. 1, 2011 - Reuters reports that three Republicans and three Democrats are joining together in an effort to develop the framework of a deal themselves. Meanwhile, an outside organization — the AFL-CIO — is launching a campaign to defeat any Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security cuts the panel may ultimately propose. And, according to Politico, Social Security is in play as the panel's deliberations continue.

Reuters: Exclusive: Group Forms Inside Debt Panel In Quest For Deal
Six members of a congressional "super committee" have struck out on their own in a new effort to come up with a plan to slash America's huge deficits before a November 23 deadline. The three Republicans and three Democrats are looking at a deficit-reduction deal of between $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion, congressional aides told Reuters on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks (Reid, Younglai and Ferraro, 11/1).

CQ HealthBeat: AFL-CIO Pledges Campaign To Stop Cuts To Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Monday that "we will run the campaign necessary" to defeat any Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security reductions proposed by joint deficit reduction panel. But he stopped short of saying the labor group won't endorse members of Congress who vote for such cuts. Trumka did say in the telephone briefing that opposition to potential cuts would be among the factors considered when it comes to making endorsements in the 2012 elections. Trumka said he "would have a tough time envisioning us endorsing people who actually voted for major cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. That would have a dampening effect on any candidate even if they were endorsed," he added (Reichard, 10/31).

Politico: Social Security Appears On Deficit Panel Agenda
If the committee were to take up changes to Social Security, it could show that Congress is looking for systemic changes to the nation's finances — something markets and credit rating agencies want to see. It may not help the committee get to $1.2 trillion, but Democrats are all but certain to insist that Boehner commit to serious changes on taxes alongside such entitlement restructuring. One Social Security change being floated is a change to the consumer price index, which has been considered in the course of other spending debates over the past year (Sherman and Raju, 10/31).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations.

Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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