Reid: Entitlement Reform 'Happy Talk,' Rich 'Want to Pay More'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, growling that a grand bargain between the GOP and Democrats that would cut entitlement programs was just “happy talk,” said that rich people want to pay more money to the government. On Nevada Public Radio, Reid said:

You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security. Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. ... There is not going to be a grand bargain . . . There's not going to be a small bargain. The only people who feel there shouldn't be more [tax money] coming in to the federal government from the rich people are the Republicans in the Congress. Everybody else, including the rich people, is willing to pay more. They want to pay more.

The GOP won’t agree to add more taxes to the 10-year, more than $600 billion that that Barack Obama and Democrats added on high-income earners in January, and Democrats won't cut entitlement programs such as Medicare.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., essentially agreed with Reid, saying, "If we focus on some big, grand bargain then we're going to focus on our differences, and both sides are going to require that the other side compromises some core principle and then we'll get nothing done.” Ryan said he’s trying for a "smaller, more achievable objective."

Ryan continued that sequestration should be shelved. He said, "I think we all agree that there's a smarter way to cut spending" than sequestration. He added,  “If I can reform entitlement programs where the savings compound annually ... that is more valuable for reducing the debt that a one-time spending cut in discretionary spending."

One proposal floating around is to fund government operations through September 2014.

The GOP wants to make cuts to Medicare health care providers that are in Obama's budget, as well as cutting Social Security cost-of-living adjustments. Obama has said he would agree to that idea, but only if there were concurrent tax increases. The GOP balks at that idea.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Wants to lower spending "caps" in future years. Other ideas include cutting Postal Service cost overruns, making federal workers put in more of their money into their pensions, and raising premiums on Medicare recipients who are in higher-income brackets.


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