Monday, February 13, 2012

Medicare Budget Cuts in the Works, Romney Wants Sweeping Medicare Change

Proposed Federal Budget

"The White House will propose deep cuts and modest tax hikes Monday in a budget that aims to stick to last summer's debt deal by trimming Medicare and other programs while making the well-off pay more.  Senior administration officials said the spending blueprint would lower tax rates overall.  But it would end the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich enacted in 2001 and 2003.  It would do that by cutting tax loopholes -- or tax expenditures, as they are called -- for high earners and corporations."

"The largest cuts would come from the defense budget and Medicare.  Defense spending would be slash some $487 billion from the Department of Defense's projected budget, including savings from winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Health programs, primarily Medicare, would be targeted for $360 billion in savings, with most expected from cuts to providers, not beneficiaries.  Another $278 billion in cuts would come from farm subsidies, federal worker retirement and other programs."

The news media are full of related stories about the budget.  Here are two samples:

STILL MORE:  Political clashes coming over budget, payroll tax cut  "The tax break is estimated to affect about 160 million Americans, saving the average family about $1,000 a year.  In addition to the payroll tax measure, negotiators are also trying to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and prevent a scheduled cut to the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat Medicare patients, known as the 'doc fix.'"

Romney Still At It On Medicare

The story stays the same, as Mr. Romney tries to tread carefully on "sweeping changes" but won't say he'll repeal or replace Medicare -- except perhaps for "coming generations."

"Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney told a conservative audience in Washington Friday he would make sweeping changes to Medicare and Social Security.  'We’re going to have to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, not for the current group of retirees, but for coming generations,' Romney told the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference.  'And we can’t afford to avoid these entitlement challenges any longer.'"

"Romney said: 'We are going to slowly and gradually raise the retirement age for Social Security' from the current 66 for full benefits.  'And we’ll slow the growth rate in benefits for higher-income retirees.'  As for Medicare, 'tomorrow’s seniors should have the freedom to choose between Medicare and a range of private plans,' Romney said to applause.  'And if these future seniors want a more expensive plan, then they will have to pay the additional cost.'"

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