For the next several months, you can be sure that we will be hearing a lot about the "Super Committee." How it's organized, its membership, and more will shape the near- and longer-term future of Medicare and America.
In the Senate's Corner -- Democrats Murray, Kerry & Baucus
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Max Baucus (D-MT) will serve [on] a new deficit Super Committee. . . . Entitlement defenders were hoping for a more progressive bunch than this. But the key on the Democratic side of the new committee isn't so much whether members will agree in principle to some entitlement cuts -- most say they will -- it's whether they'll require as a concession that Republicans agree to increase tax revenues."
Of importance, "Murray is a senior member of the Budget Committee, a proponent of balancing spending cuts and tax increases in a deficit deal, and, importantly, chairwoman off [sic] the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That has Republicans crying foul already, and here's why: A hidden reason for the GOP's ongoing deficit push has been to force Democrats to cut entitlement benefits on a bipartisan basis, to neutralize the GOP's vote to phase out Medicare earlier this year. As the person in charge of electing Democrats to the Senate in 2012, Murray will have a powerful incentive to steer clear of policies that blur the sharp contrast between the parties on that issue."
Reading the article, the credentials for these three appointees is quite good. And, it's easy to expect that any one of them will be more "statesmanlike" than any Republican. However, before we make a judgment about their concerns or approach, we'll give them a chance. Senator Kerry seems more the wild card here when it comes to Medicare. At any rate, the Senate Democrats as a group have strong incentives to protect Medicare.
Reining In Debt Through Medicare Spending
Over the next few weeks, Kaiser Health News will be talking with former members of panels similar to the 12-member "Super Committee" -- people who have considered sweeping changes to entitlements. "KHN's Mary Agnes Carey talks to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist about the 'super committee's' chance at tamping down the nation's debt. Frist says the panel has a chance to lower the debt and Medicare spending growth because the American public understands the stakes this time -- the American Dream." Sen. Frist also says, "And the good thing is, you don’t have to hurt the beneficiaries, you don’t have to hurt the recipients -- and I would argue they need to be protected today."
While I certainly do not agree with very much of Sen. Frist's thinking in general, I certainly do agree that Medicare beneficiaries need to be protected -- even more so today than at any other time in recent memory.
The Republican Reality-Free Zone