Republicans Float Changes to Social Security and Medicare
Democrats said they would eliminate the unpopular practice of charging seniors and families for employer-sponsored health coverage, a decision likely to add thousands of dollars to the cost of insurance on already expensive plans.
President Barack Obama said the proposals would be paid for by ending tax breaks for wealthier Americans and reducing Social Security benefits.
The Democratic proposal would also cut Medicare for future seniors — a move that Democrats say would save the deficit billions over the next decade.
Ahead of a scheduled House hearing on the proposals, Democrats signaled that they would also propose to curb Medicare’s future growth of benefits, which are slated to be used as a safety net to help seniors as they age.
“We’re going to cut Medicare,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee who announced the Medicare reform plan Tuesday. “We’re going to reform Social Security.”
The Social Security reforms were included in the Social Security “transition” package, which Republicans had hoped would help them win over wavering Democrats and independent voters who had been resistant to Obama’s re-election on an unrivaled social programs initiative.
Democrats have been reluctant for some time to discuss cuts to Social Security because doing so might trigger a political backlash among seniors and other taxpayers who count on the program to help retire and retire. Republicans have repeatedly failed to win over that constituency by pledging to keep the program solvent.
But the Medicare proposal is another matter. The Democrats’ proposal could cost nearly the same, while the proposed rate reductions will reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years and add to Social Security’s already aging program rather than cutting it from the current path to solvency.
While the Medicare proposal is being heralded as a historic effort to address entitlement programs that both parties agree have reached unsustainable proportions, the Democratic proposal would effectively phase in the benefit cuts over a 10-year span that would begin