November 29, 2012

Cliff notes: the Medicare deal

In what is probably as good a summary of the current cliff notes as you're going to find, Politico mentions an Obama strategy of postponing some of the Medicare bad news. He did this with Obamacare as well, to help him get through the election.

But there's a little constitutional point that the public should note because politicians and media certainly are ignoring it. No Congress or president gets to decide the budget ten to twenty years down the pike. There are five to ten sessions of Congress that have that privilege, not to mention two to four presidents other than Obama. 

But Washington, with the help of a gullible media, is happily misleading the public into thinking that it can decide what we spend ten years from now. It can try, to be sure, but the Constitution gives the ultimate right to others. The whole current practice of multiplying budget figure by ten to make them look bigger is really a PR con. - Sam Smith

Politico -
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that he could see $400 billion in entitlement cuts. That’s the floor, according to Democratic aides, and it could go higher in the final give and take. The vast majority of the savings, and perhaps all of it, will come from Medicare, through a combination of means-testing, raising the retirement age and other “efficiencies” to be named later. It is possible Social Security gets tossed into the mix, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to fight that, if he has to yield on other spending fronts.

Democrats want most Medicare and other entitlement savings to kick in between 10 and 20 years from now, which will make some Republicans choke. Democrats will point to the precedent set by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) of pushing most mandatory savings off until a decade from now.

“A lot of the big entitlement savings comes in the 10-20 year budget window, not the next 10 years,” a Democratic aide said. “Everybody will need to get on board understanding that. Paul Ryan and the Obama budget are the same on health cuts for the next 10 years.”

But that will most likely be the deal Republicans will be staring at: tax hikes now in exchange for Medicare changes way later. That will require some fancy footwork by Boehner to sell.

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