Lieberman and Coburn Team Up To Cut Medicare Benefits
Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have teamed up on a new bipartisan piece of legislation that would cut Medicare benefits and raise the retirement eligibility age. From ABC News:
“We can’t balance our budget without dealing with mandatory spending programs like Medicare,” Lieberman said. “We can’t save Medicare as we know it. We can only save Medicare if we change it.”
The proposal increases the eligibility age for Medicare, gradually rising to 67 from 65, starting in 2014—and would require seniors to pay more for their prescription drugs. Most of the savings within the plan would come from an increase in premiums paid by seniors. The plan would require higher-income Americans to pay more for their share of Medicare Part A, B and D. For Parts B and D, wealthier Americans will be asked to pay hundred percent of premium cost.
The bill closely mirrors the plan Lieberman floated earlier this month to cut Medicare benefits.
While some top Congressional Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have called Lieberman’s bill a bad idea, it is still extremely disconcerting in the context of the current DC deficit hysteria.
Mitch McConnell has said that Medicare cuts must be a part of any “grand bargain” on the debt ceiling, in order to neutralize the ability of Democrats to beat up Republicans with their disastrous vote on the Paul Ryan Medicare bill in the 2012 election. And that’s apparently what President Obama is using to try and entice Speaker John Boehner into cutting a deal. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), always a good stalking horse to measure Obama’s true intent, was on the cable news morning shows today saying Democrats need to be prepared to accept changes to entitlements.
At the very least, the idea that there is “bipartisan agreement” on the need to cut Medicare benefits has now been injected into the debate about the debt ceiling, thanks to Lieberman and Coburn.