Monday, December 10, 2012

The cut-Medicare trial balloon

Ezra Klein was the one who reported on the trial balloon proposal being floated by the Obama Administration in The fiscal cliff deal comes clearer: a 37% top tax rate and a higher Medicare eligibility age Washington Post 12/07/2012.

Quoting Digby once again, because she's been tracking this awful Grand Bargain concept to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid more carefully than any other writer I know, she tracked its manifestations over the last few days, for instance in Hot Air Trial Ballooning Hullabaloo 12/09/2012 where she explains why it's important for supporters of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to raise hell over the Democrats suggested they are willing to cut benefits on those programs:

Before everyone gets into another tizzy about how shrill and unreasonable I'm being for taking this rumor seriously, let's have a little discussion of what a "trial balloon" is. It is, simply, a rumor that's purposefully spread during a negotiation in order to gauge the reaction. Therefore, it is important to react, not act all glib and self-assured that it could never happen. They want to know if you think this is a good idea, so if you don't you should say so. And you should say it in a shrill enough fashion that they know it's a very big deal, if you think it's a very big deal.

Even if you think the President is adamantly opposed to cutting vital social welfare programs --- which I don't since he's said he is willing to make these "tough choices" many, many times --- he is helped in that by a shrill base rising up to counter the Boehner tea party freak show on the right. Whether you think he's got your best interest at heart or that he's trying to do a Grand Bargain, reacting "shrilly" to ideas to cut the safety net and other vital programs that affect real people is completely appropriate. This is the public part of the negotiations and it's important that they hear from you.

Now, if you think that cutting these vital programs for no good reason is a good idea, well then fine. You are well within your rights to roll your eyes at the silly people who find the whole concept of deficit reduction in a time of economic crisis to be absurd and who think that the consequence of this self-laid trap of a "fiscal cliff" should not be borne by average people who have already lost much of their accumulated wealth and are still suffering. That's fine. But if it happens and you were dismissive of those who spoke out, let's not pretend you didn't get exactly what you wanted. (And if it doesn't happen, it's not unlikely that you will have the shrill hysterics to thank for it.) (emphasis in original)
That useless Dick Durbin - the White House spokesperson to "the left" on cutting benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - but also Nancy Pelosi - who was reportedly read to support such cuts during the debt-ceiling fight in 2011 - were obliquely promoting the idea that Obamacare would take up the slack if Medicare eligibility were raised from the current 65 to 67. See also Digby's Where do the hippies come up with this stuff? 12/09/2012.

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