GOP: Increase Medicare Age, Lower Social Security Benefits


House Speaker John Boehner (Getty Images)
By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans on Monday proposed a new 10-year, $2.2 trillion blueprint to President Barack Obama that calls for increasing the eligibility age for Medicare and lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits.

The proposal from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans comes in response to Obama's offer last week to hike taxes by $1.6 trillion over the coming decade but largely exempt Medicare and Social Security from budget cuts.

The GOP plan also proposes to raise $800 billion in higher tax revenue over the decade but it would keep the Bush-era tax cuts - including those for wealthier earners targeted by Obama - in place for now.

Boehner said the GOP proposal is a "credible plan" for Obama and that he hopes the administration would "respond in a timely and responsible way." The offer comes after the administration urged Republicans to detail their proposal to cut popular benefits programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

"After the election I offered to speed this up by putting revenue on the table and unfortunately the White House responded with their la-la land offer that couldn't pass the House, couldn't pass the Senate and it was basically the president's budget from last February," Boehner told reporters.

The Boehner proposal revives a host of ideas from failed talks with Obama in the summer of 2011. Then, Obama was willing to discuss politically controversial ideas like raising the eligibility age for Medicare, implementing a new inflation adjustment for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and requiring wealthier Medicare recipients to pay more for their benefits.

On Monday, Obama did not respond to questions from reporters on his reaction to the Republican counteroffer or whether he had seen the proposal. He was asked about the offer during an event in the Oval Office with the Bulgarian prime minister.

The clock is ticking closer to the end-of-year deadline to avert the fiscal cliff, which is a combination of the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of prior failures of Congress and Obama to make a budget deal.

Many economists say such a one-two punch could send the fragile economy back into recession.

GOP aides said the plan was based on a plan floated by Erskine Bowles in testimony to the special deficit "supercommittee" last year - in effect a milder version of the highly controversial 2010 Bowles proposal that caused both GOP and Democratic leaders in Congress to recoil.

By GOP math, the plan would produce $2.2 trillion in saving over the coming decade: $800 billion in higher taxes; $600 billion in savings from costly health care programs like Medicare; $300 billion from other proposals like forcing federal workers to contribute more toward their pensions; and $300 billion in additional savings from the Pentagon budget and domestic programs funded by Congress each year.

Under the administration's math, GOP aides said, the plan represents $4.6 trillion in 10-year savings. That estimate accounts for earlier cuts enacted during last year's showdown over lifting the government's borrowing cap and also factors in war savings and lower interest payments on the $16.4 trillion national debt.

Last week, the White House delivered to Capitol Hill its opening proposal: $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over a decade, a possible extension of the temporary Social Security payroll tax cut and heightened presidential power to raise the national debt limit.

In exchange, the president would back $600 billion in spending cuts, including $350 billion from Medicare and other health programs. But he also wants $200 billion in new spending for jobless benefits, public works projects and aid for struggling homeowners. His proposal for raising the ceiling on government borrowing would make it virtually impossible for Congress to block him going forward.

Republicans said they responded in closed-door meetings with laughter and disbelief.

The GOP plan is certain to whip up opposition from Democrats opposed to any action now on Social Security, whose defenders say should not be part of any fiscal cliff deal. And Democrats also are deeply skeptical of raising the Medicare age.

Both ideas were part of negotiations between Boehner and Obama in the summer of last year.

In a letter to the president, Boehner and six other House Republicans insisted that the November election that returned Obama to the White House and the GOP to majority control in the House requires both parties to come together "on a fair middle ground."

"With the fiscal cliff nearing, our priority remains finding a reasonable solution that can pass both the House and Senate, and be signed into law in the next couple of weeks," Republicans wrote.

One of the few things the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans can agree to is a framework that would make a "down payment" on the deficit and all or most of the extend expiring Bush-era tax cuts but leave most of the legislative grunt work until next year.

Republicans dismissed the notion of raising tax rates and said flatly they would oppose them. Instead, new revenue would come from tax reform, closing loopholes and deductions while lowering rates, according to the Bowles plan.

Signing the letter was Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the unsuccessful GOP vice presidential candidate. Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Republican Conference chair, also signed the letter.

In a scathing attack, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, "if the president is serious about joining us in an effort to reduce the deficit and protect the economy, he'll get off the campaign trail, drop the left-wing talking points, and instruct his staff to negotiate a solution in good faith based on actual written proposals. In short, he'll begin doing what leaders do: Lead."

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33 Comments

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nacwjn

Let me get this straight, a person making $500K pays a tax rate of 36%, or $180,000.00 in federal taxes.
A person making $35K pays 15%, or $5,250.00 in federal taxes. And the Dems want the wealthy person to pay more? I was under the impression that all of our tax money went to support the same thing? (mostly welfare).
I say, no tax increases AND A "THANK YOU" TO THE 180K PEOPLE.

December 07 2012 at 10:59 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
freethedems2012

Hey Barack - this is a citizen.
Please stop campaigning and do your job.
Oh yeah, all you know how to do is campaign.

December 04 2012 at 7:34 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Somey

t_trevor2

someonedumb needs a nap if he attempts to tie his shoes. Failure is exhausting.
============================================================
Don't you have a start-up company to supervise??????????????????????????

December 04 2012 at 12:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Somey's comment
t_trevor2

Don't you have a brain that would allow you to remember?

December 04 2012 at 12:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

Somey don't you have an AA meeting to attend dear?

December 04 2012 at 6:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mrspelosi's comment
Somey

I don't go to AA meetings; I'm not a lush like you.

December 04 2012 at 7:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
t_trevor2

someonedumb, you might want to consider pretending to be a drunk.

For one, it would obviously be one helluva lot easier for you to pull off than your previous hilarious attempts to pretend you had a job.

For another, you might be able to elicit a degree of sympathy by convincing others that your staggering stupidity is the result of a "disease".

You've got nothing to lose!

December 04 2012 at 9:55 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down
ilm9p

You know who this is meaningless to? All the dirty animals on welfare in this Country that's who. See they don't have to worry about working, retiring, Medicare, nothing! This scum gets it all for free. This filth that lays around all day in free section 8 housing, with free utilities, free phones, free Cable TV, free food, free healthcare, free everything! Then they send their spawn to school to get free breakfast, free lunch, free school supplies, and free after school care. At Thanksgiving they lined up and got even more free food, and then in a week or so this vermin will drive their SUV (with the phony handicapped placard hanging from the rear-view mirror) on $5000.00 rims, to get free toys, free bikes, and even more free food, for Christmas. Lather, rinse, repeat, year after year, generation after generation, year after year.

December 04 2012 at 10:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ilm9p's comment
Somey

"dirty animals" Sound like the GOP

December 04 2012 at 11:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Somey's comment
baileymoneymgmt

I wonder what is the % increase in the labor force of people over the age of 65 in the last 10years? If the republicans would allow them to retire rather than rid the dictionary of the word retirement maybe the unemployment rate that Romney based his entire campaign on would come down.

December 04 2012 at 10:00 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to baileymoneymgmt's comment
theycallmeroy3

You're thinking and asking, that's good. And you're right, people who are older, are staying in the work force, which is a problem for younger workers. Data is there. But here's the kicker, the main reason, is because they lived beyond their means.

December 04 2012 at 10:08 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to theycallmeroy3's comment
Somey

"because they lived beyond their means."

There is a good portion, if not the majority of people who are living from pay check to pay check and unable to save for retirement, through no false of theirs.

December 04 2012 at 10:33 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down
theycallmeroy3

Its complex, and where we get into problems, is when we refuse to look at all the pieces to the puzzle. Retailers and advertisers know certain income people, usually in the $ 50,000 and under range, spend all their disposable income. And target those groups.

December 04 2012 at 10:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
t_trevor2

You mean Republicans passed a law banning those over 65 from retirement? Does it include jail time for violators?

December 04 2012 at 10:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
linmarco

The people involved in these negotiations are privy to info the rest of the public isn't. Just a thought.

December 04 2012 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GHab8

All the Republicans want to do it continue to protect the Rich, and take more from the middle class and seniors, who have already paid their dues into the ss system to earn their money. A total Sham on their part, and total denial that they lost the election.

December 04 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to GHab8's comment
theycallmeroy3

You're aware that the majority of wealthy people are over the age of 65?

December 04 2012 at 9:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to theycallmeroy3's comment
t_trevor2

Those over age 65 comprise the wealthiest age demographic in the country.

And they could have been even wealthier yet had government goons refrained from fund a failed ponzi scheme by confiscating the fruits of their labor throughout their working years that could have otherwise been allocated to further building their nest eggs.

December 04 2012 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
theycallmeroy3

Bernanke. On low interest policies, really doesn't have a lot of sympathy, for senior citizens getting low returns rates in their savings. Why do you think that is?

December 04 2012 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
baileymoneymgmt

I don't understand why the republicans want to reduce entitlement progams so much? The 98% of us are not so rich that we can not rely on these programs that we contributed to in order to live out our golden years with out having to scrape the barrel to get by.

December 04 2012 at 8:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to baileymoneymgmt's comment
rgmac12

Maybe becaue "free" isnt the way America was built and many are tired of paying for those who will not. People understand there are some who cannot .. but those who are on the free ride system, need to get off the bus. Everyone has the same opportunity to create wealth in America .. its a matter of some education and a lot of hard work. Amazing the number of people who ask for help .. and only work one job

HELP YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 04 2012 at 9:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rgmac12's comment
ilm9p

Amen and Right On!

December 04 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
linmarco

"Maybe because "free" isn't the way Americ was built..." You're right. America was built with a gun by men who were willing to use whatever means necessary to take the land from Native Americans and Mexicans by force of arms. In most instances they took it. Let's say it was almost or close to free as you can get without it being free.

December 04 2012 at 11:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
t_trevor2

It's criminal the way government goons have impoverished citizens to fund a failed ponzi scheme by confiscating the fruits of citizens labor throughout their working years that could have otherwise been allocated to providing for their needs during their golden years.

December 04 2012 at 10:23 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
SeaHack

I don't understand why the republicans are so vehemently opposed to raising taxes on the super rich.

December 04 2012 at 6:16 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SeaHack's comment
t_trevor2

Since useful idiots don't understand the opposition to confiscating the fruits of citizens labor, lets just raise the taxes of these dumb ones.

Granted, it wouldn't raise much in the way of revenue, but maybe it would teach the dumb ones a valuable lesson.

December 04 2012 at 12:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
jtmpmm

The republicans lost an election. An election where they refused a deal last summer trying to ensure the president's defeat. Elections have consequences. They cannot expect as good an offer as they got last summer. They must accept less.

December 03 2012 at 11:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply