It’s becoming quite clear that liberals are stonewalling on entitlement cuts while conservatives are caving on higher taxes for the wealthy. Barack Obama said yesterday that the Republicans would cave, asserting that he was “confident”:
I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals. I don't think they'll do that.
There have been rumors that Obama would consider changing the minimum age for Medicare to 67, but Obama’s statements belie that. He intoned:
When you look at the evidence, it's not clear that it actually saves a lot of money. But what I've said is 'Let's look at every avenue because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations.' The current path is not sustainable because we've got an aging population and healthcare costs are shooting up so quickly.
Obama is sticking with his meme, that he is concerned about the middle class:
I'd like to see a big package. But the most important thing we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes do not go up on Jan. 1st.
Shh. Don’t mention ObamaCare hitting after January 1.
Meanwhile liberals are absolutely intransigent about entitlement cuts.
Rep. Henry Waxman:
If you want to boil it down to one message: Keep your hands off the Medicaid program. We don’t believe in cutting Medicare, either, but whatever they talk about in Medicare, maybe there’s some things we can live with. But we cannot live with any cut to Medicaid. I’ll see what the proposals are and I’ll evaluate them. But I’ll say one thing: No reductions in Medicaid. It would be unthinkable. It would hurt the Affordable Care Act’s success. And it would be a real threat to people who are really vulnerable. I think the president and the administration understand that Medicaid cannot be cut, even along the lines of what was under consideration a couple of years ago. It would lead a lot of states to feel uncertain about whether they’re going to have the money they need to take on this extra load with Medicaid, and therefore some states may be more hesitant.
Senator Jay Rockefeller:
We’re not budging on Medicare, we’re not budging on Medicaid — Medicaid above all, because it’s the unknown. It’s the one people don’t talk about. AARP always talks about Medicare. They make a lot of money off that. They don’t make much off Medicaid.
Forget the fact that the Congressional Budget Office says raising the eligibility age for Medicare would save $113 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) won’t even consider cutting or changing Social Security.
While the liberals sacrifice the U.S. economy by refusing to consider entitlement cuts, Republicans are retreating. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) has stated that if the Republicans cave on taxes on the wealthy, they might be able to induce the Democrats to cut spending and entitlements.
Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) agreed:
There is a growing group of folks that are looking at this and realizing that we don’t have a lot of cards on the tax issue before year-end. A lot of people are putting forth a theory, and I actually think it has merit, where you go ahead, give the president the 2 percent increase that he is talking about — the rate increase on the top 2 percent — and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements.
And Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) echoed the caving mentality, saying, “wealthy individuals — millionaires and billionaires — should pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes to help us reduce the soaring deficit.”
Obama is playing with the Republicans if they think he’s malleable; in 2011 he told John Boehner privately that he would consider raising the Medicare age for eligibility, making cuts in Medicaid, and changing Social Security. But Democrats balked, and now Obama doesn’t have to face reelection.
That was then, this is now. Obama has been warned by his party’s kooky left; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote an op-ed rejecting changing the age for Medicare.
There are, of course, some Republicans who still believe in conservatism; Sen. Jim DeMint vehemently disagreed with capitulation:
I don’t think any decoupling of the rates is a concession we should make. I think that’s capitulation. It doesn’t help the country. For the Republicans to agree to that is bad policy and I think it’s bad politics.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has blasted the Business Roundtable for approving of capitulating to the liberals.