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Senior Citizen Politics

Republicans Seem Ready to Shift Fight to Cutting Senior Entitlements

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

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

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 sustainable."

 

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Chained CPI Affects More Than Social Security COLA, Seniors Would Get Less, Pay More

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Read more on Politics for Senior Citizens

 

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 claiming victory.

“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 report in 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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