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Thu Dec 6, 2012, 08:42 PM

Democrats Hint at Entitlement Program Cuts in U.S. Budget [View all]

Source: Businessweek

Two Senate Democratic leaders signaled they may have to accept cuts to U.S. entitlement programs to secure a deficit-reduction deal, after some Republicans expressed willingness to discuss higher tax rates for top earners.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said he is open to alternatives including expanded means-testing -- charging higher-income seniors more -- for Medicare. Republicans are seeking limits to spending on entitlement programs. Durbin and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, didn’t rule them out while speaking with reporters today in Washington.
...
Regarding entitlement programs, Durbin said it would be “difficult” to change the calculation of Social Security cost- of-living increases, and raising the Medicare eligibility age could hurt poor seniors who retire early with health problems.

Higher-income senior citizens already pay more for Medicare benefits.

“The question is what other means-tests should apply,” Durbin said. “I think that is reasonable and certainly consistent with the Democratic message that those who are better off in our country should be willing to pay a little more,” said Durbin.



Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-12-06/democrats-hint-at-entitlement-program-cuts-in-u-dot-s-dot-budget



The article says COLA changes and raising the Medicare eligibility age were on the table in 2011 (we already know that), and that Boehner is proposing that now. But Durbin's comments about that hurting poor seniors is somewhat encouraging.

It seems like they are also weighing proposals for increased use of means-testing, which seems like the lesser of two evils, IMO. Doesn't seem like they would take Medicare away from higher income beneficiaries, but they might make them pay more for it. Durbin makes a good point about that being consistent with Democratic values that the wealthier should pay more.

I think it's time to start showing serious resistance on the Medicare eligibility age. Not just by posting on here...send letters to the president and to your members of Congress. Consider holding rallies if necessary.

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