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Ann McFeatters: Medicare remains in GOP crosshairs

Scripps Howard News Service Published: December 10, 2012 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Here's the latest irony from the nation's capital: Having lost the election, Republicans are demanding that the White House agree to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.

Even though Medicare is predicted to be solvent for the next 12 years and we don't know if the Affordable Care Act, when fully implemented, will extend that timeframe, the secret war going on in dysfunctional Washington is about reducing the number of seniors on Medicare.

When House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks for Republicans to argue that there will be no tax increase on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans without entitlement "reform," that is what he means: cut the number of seniors eligible for Medicare.

Yes, it is true that Medicare is growing exponentially as baby boomers retire. Yes, it is true that changes are inevitable. That's one reason why Obamacare requires that $716 billion be squeezed from Medicare by changing formulas for payments to doctors, hospitals and insurers -- not beneficiaries. Obama believes that there is too much waste in Medicare and that reducing it will lower health care costs in America.

The Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, and Obama won re-election by a wide margin. But Republicans insist they don't want to give Obamacare a chance to work before they begin dismantling the structure of Medicare.

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A lot of Republican politicians don't like Medicare. They have confused the issue so much that they won more votes from seniors on Medicare than Obama did because a lot of those seniors don't realize that the secret GOP plan is to substitute Medicare as we know it with vouchers for private insurance companies.

That was Mitt Romney's plan.

Romney may have been all but forgotten even by his most fervent GOP supporters, but his plan to revamp Medicare lives on. Under his proposal, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25 million seniors would pay significantly more if it were implemented.

There are many good suggestions for improving Medicare and making it more efficient and less costly. But a majority of seniors disagree that the first thing that should be done is to slam the door on seniors just becoming eligible.

Many Republican politicians also want to revamp Social Security to cut benefits to seniors even though Social Security is a separate revenue pot that has nothing to do with the national budget deficit. These Republicans want these dramatic changes to Medicare and Social Security done in the next couple of weeks.

We are told polls show that a majority of Americans think Congress is behaving like naughty children. Actually, if you check out any day care center or kindergarten room, you will see far more order, civility and playing nice than in the halls of Congress.

There is so much confusion about the fiscal cliff, the national deficit, the national debt and the nation's future that Americans should not be blamed for feeling all is chaos.

This is the truth: The fiscal cliff, which means draconian cuts take effect and taxes rise on everybody on Jan. 1, is man-made by Congress. It is simple to resolve: Raise revenue and cut spending in a fair and honest way.

The fiscal cliff has nothing to do with Medicare or Social Security, which are separate problems and will not possibly be resolved by Dec. 31.

Postscript: In 1970, Medicare was supposed to run out of money to pay all obligations within two years. In 2008, that date was 2017. Today, the date is 2024.

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anonymous Dec 12, 2012 12:37 PM

Yep, parasite may kill their host, but they really don't want that to happen. We have passed the point of no return. 51% of the people are on fed assistance of OPM. These parasites are killing off their host. Not one of the DC elete gives a hoot. They are are in the game. As long as they feed the masses treats they stay in power.

anonymous Dec 11, 2012 1:18 PM

The problem with the Republican and their Parasites, the Tea Bagger, is they want a single answer to all aspects of each particular problem, the Magic Silver Bullet. You see what happens when you try getting through to them, they say things like 'do you really think that raising taxes on the 2% is going to cure our ills?'. No, but it's a start, but to the Republican and the Parasitic Tea Partiers since it's ONLY a start and NOT a complete solution it isn't any part of the solution, and that kind of "thinking" is Madness. But never fear, Like all parasites when the host is dieing they flee, just look at Jim DeMint and Dick Armey.

anonymous Dec 10, 2012 12:10 PM

Is there anyone out there who actually believes taking more money from people with income in excess of $200k to fund the feds for a grand toal of 8 1/2 days will change anything? will solve the fiscal crisis?

anonymous Dec 10, 2012 11:49 AM

The DC elete have no intention of "fixing" anything. They are perfectly content using OPM and continuing to make laws for the lower class to obey while they exempt themselves. The democrats are hypocrites wheras the repubs are helpless. We passed the fiscal cliff some time ago. The crisis is coming and the recipient class is going to revolt when the gravy train stops supplying freebies. The providig class is shrinking and will continue to do so until the real crash occurs.

anonymous Dec 10, 2012 11:31 AM

So in 10,15,20 years SS and Med is going to run into a wall so the dealbreaker for the Pugs is to force these programs inclusion in the wall we're going to hit within the month .... Is that Sane?

anonymous Dec 10, 2012 11:23 AM

The reason Republicans insist on including Social Security and Medicare in the Fiscal problem is because these "entitlement" programs have nothing to do with the fiscal problem. So Obama is correct in not allowing "entitlements" to become a factor, except to watch the Republican insist on including a non imminent problem to hold up dealing with the immediate problem and thus have the Republican display the Republican dysfunction.

anonymous Dec 10, 2012 5:46 AM

"There are many good suggestions for improving Medicare and making it more efficient and less costly."

All of which the Democrats oppose.