Republicans Seem Ready to Shift Fight to Cutting
Speaker Boehner says on ABC that the fight in
Washington is really about the growth in the senior citizen population…
the important goal is reducing entitlement spending; may push for cuts
that President Obama earlier suggested
Oct. 6, 2013 – There are many who now say the real
target of the Republicans in the current battle in Washington is not
really Obamacare, it is entitlements, or, more specifically, Social
Security and Medicare. These concerns were heightened today when House
Speaker John Boehner said on ABC’s This Week that what is driving the
conflict is the growth in the senior citizen population.
“Let's look at what's driving the problem,” the
Speaker said. “…10,000 baby-boomers like me retiring, every single day.
70,000 this week. 3.5 million this year. And it's not like there's money
in Social Security or Medicare. The government, over the last 30 years,
has spent it all. And so now, we're in this whipsaw effect. This is only
year three. This is going to go on for another 22 years as baby-boomers
retire. We know these programs are important to tens of millions of
Americans. But if we don't address the underlying problems, they are not
ABC host George Stephanopoulos responded, “So
you're saying you want a conversation now about changes in Social
Security, changes in Medicare, changes in entitlements? Would you be
willing to accept what the president has demanded for that kind of a
negotiation, having new revenues as part of the discussion?
Boehner said they have already raised revenues and
concluded with – “Very simple. We're not raising taxes.”
And, Al Hunt, former executive editor of Bloomberg,
now a columnist, sees an end to the shutdown, but also predicts a shift
to "cutbacks in entitlements."
"There is a sensible endgame: adopt a continuing
resolution on the budget and extend the debt ceiling for several years
(ultimately, it should be terminated)," writes Hunt.
"Congress then could replace the mindless
across-the-board discretionary spending cuts under sequestration with a
combination of cutbacks in entitlements, including some means-testing
and changes to cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and other
programs as well as increased revenue from modest reductions in
deductions for the wealthy, without raising rates."
The idea that Republicans are really after cuts in
Social Security and Medicare was also suggested on October 1 by Kathleen
Parker, a columnist with the Washington Post Syndicate that often seems
in step with the Republican Party.
She suggested that the government shutdown over the
Republican effort to defund Obamacare will be settled with both sides
“Meanwhile, leading up to the debt-ceiling
deadline, we’ll witness much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth —
and that’s just the media,” Parker wrote.
“The American People will hear that Republicans are
willing to savage the nation’s full faith and credit for political
points and that the president, being presidential, will refuse to be
held hostage and, therefore, won’t negotiate.”
Her main point is -
“What Republicans hope to accomplish by tying
demands to the debt ceiling is a grand bargain to include a package of
entitlement and tax reform. Sound familiar? The president can refuse to
negotiate, but at 3 a.m. when the phone rings and it’s Angela Merkel
inquiring just what the hell is going on, it won’t be John Boehner’s
phone ringing. It will be President Obama’s. That’s leverage. During the
last debt-ceiling battle, Boehner managed to secure more than $2
trillion in cuts and “no taxes.”
And, even prior to the Parker column there was a
The Hill newspaper on September 23 that led with -
“Prominent House conservatives are insisting that
any increase in the debt limit be tied to cuts or changes in entitlement
programs and mandatory spending, rather than just a tax overhaul,
potentially complicating GOP leadership efforts to work out an agreement
with Democrats to avoid a default.”
Republican House members may be pushing for cuts in
Social Security and Medicare spending but what should really alarm
seniors and their advocates who oppose reductions in benefits is that
the changes tossed out be the GOP are very likely to be those President
Obama proposed last April. Chief among those will be the chained
consumer price index, which will be a new way of computing the
cost-of-living allowance for Social Security recipients.
Virtually all senior advocates are opposed to the
chained CPI, which reduces the amount of future Social Security benefits
resulting from COLA increases. Those who want to battle these
Congressional cuts in senior programs had better gear up fast. This
fight is just around the corner.
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