Monday, November 21, 2011

Joint Committee Remains at Impasse, Medicare Cuts Under Serious Discussion, Advocates Working to Prevent Cuts

It looks as if the Medicare cuts that were under consideration by the Joint Committee now have faded as the Committee apparently has failed to reach an agreement for resolving the Nation's debt.  As we have said all along, this might not be such a bad thing for Medicare.  It may be that the words of so many advocates have helped to keep Medicare safe for now.

No Progress

"A full-scale blame game erupted into public view Sunday after nearly three months of secretive negotiations on the supercommittee that failed to resolve an impasse to cut at least $1.2 trillion in deficits over the next decade.  Fanning out across the Sunday talk shows just hours before the supercommittee’s deadline, Republicans insisted that Democrats wanted to institute a $1 trillion tax hike, while Democrats argued that the GOP wanted to gut popular entitlements and protect the rich. And both sides insisted they were willing to compromise when the other refused to move off their partisan positions."

From Senator Bernie Sanders:

"Sanders gave plainspoken arguments against cutting social security, Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the country's deficit.  'Here's the issue: The issue is that in fact, this country does have a serious deficit problem,' Sanders said.  'But the reality is that the deficit was caused by [1] two wars not paid for, [2] huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, and [3] a recession as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street.  And if those are the causes of the deficit and the national debt I will be damned if we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children, and the poor.  That's wrong.'"

From Our Friends at NCPSSM:

"The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has endorsed legislation introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) creating a more accurate cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula for America's seniors.  The CPI-E was developed in 1987 to reflect the different spending patterns of consumers age 62 and older.  This formula acknowledges health costs have been rising much faster than other expenses, and that those costs represent a much larger percentage of seniors' monthly spending than is the case with other demographic groups.  The CPI-E is a more accurate measure of the real-world expenses retirees face than the current COLA formula and far more accurate than the proposed Chained CPI which would cut projected benefits over time."

"As the Congressional supercommittee's deadline looms, one provision that some members of both parties hope will fly under the public's radar is a plan to cut the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for America's seniors, disabled, survivors and veterans.  While Washington 's fiscal hawks try to downplay the proposal's impact by calling it a "technical" tweak the truth is switching to a Chained-CPI will permanently cut COLAs for generations of middle class Americans, making it harder and harder for them to make ends meet."  "The National Committee believes it is critical that the COLA be calculated based on an accurate formula.  If accuracy is truly the goal, Congress should change the COLA formula to factor in the actual expenses most seniors face, including health care."

"New national polling, sponsored by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation and Social Security Works, reveals that Americans across party lines strongly oppose changing the COLA formula as a way to cut the deficit."  "'Washington can try to camouflage the Chained-CPI using whatever poll-tested language they think is safe -- but voters will see right through that and will recognize this as a Social Security benefit cut they'll face today and for generations to come,'" said Max Richtman, NCPSSM President & CEO.

"Some members of the Congressional Super Committee apparently believe retirees who own their house or have saved for their retirement shouldn't receive their full benefits in Medicare because they're considered 'wealthy'.  Yet when it comes to tax breaks and loopholes, Americans earning a quarter of a million dollars aren't considered 'wealthy' by the same fiscal hawks now gunning for benefit cuts. The double-standard is clear.  Means testing middle-class benefit programs not only shifts costs to seniors, it will actually impact far more than just 'wealthy' retirees as more and more middle income Americans will be hit with growing premiums."

From the Democrats

"A Constitutional amendment that would forbid Congress from running deficits failed in the House Friday, thanks to broad opposition by Democrats, who recognized it as a GOP messaging vehicle, and a tool they’d use to roll back safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security."

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