Viewpoints: Fighting to a draw on Medicare; A coming era of austerity

Published on December 1, 2012 at 1:19 AM · No Comments

The Wall Street Journal: The Death Of 'Mediscare'
Since Nov. 6, Republicans have, for perfectly understandable reasons, expressed their deep disappointment with the election results. But even in defeat something significant and positive occurred: Republicans fought Democrats to a draw on the issue of Medicare (Dan Senor and Peter Wehner, 11/29).

The New York Times' Taking Note: Medicare Off The Menu
But the charge has everything to do with the other conversation going on in Washington today as the two parties try to avert a fiscal deadline of spending cuts and tax hikes. Republicans have demanded that Democrats put painful Medicare cuts on the table in exchange for tax hikes on the rich, yet they ran an entire presidential campaign on the misleading notion that Mr. Obama was cutting Medicare too much. Now they sit mute across the table from White House negotiators, refusing to expose themselves by saying what Medicare cuts they actually want to make, and demanding that Democrats go first (David Firestone, 11/29).

Chicago Sun-Times: Democrats Should Pay Heed To Dick Durbin On Medicare, Medicaid
Progressives in this country would be wise to listen to Dick Durbin, Illinois' senior senator. The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate this week essentially pleaded with his fellow progressives to give up the false notion that raising taxes on the wealthiest will alone solve the nation's crippling debt problem. This comes as talks on averting the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff of tax hikes and crippling spending cuts near a crescendo. Durbin is right -- and the sooner progressives and Democrats get that, the sooner they can get to work on shaping the cost-cutting to Medicaid and Medicare that must be part of any realistic long-term deficit-reduction plan (11/29).

The Washington Post: Austerity And Morality
America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one's particular fault, but it is very, very large. Failing to get our borrowing under control would deny our children the lives we have had in this country (Michael Gerson, 11/29).

The Washington Post: Cliff-Jumping With Barack
Why are Republicans playing the Democrats' game that the "fiscal cliff" is all about taxation? … Where is the other part of President Obama's vaunted "balanced approach?" Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health care trio) and Social Security? (Charles Krauthammer, 11/29).

The New York Times: Class Wars Of 2012
Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we're told -- after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn't we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent (Paul Krugman, 11/29).

Los Angeles Times: Dislodging Obamacare
Democrats are likewise deluding themselves if they think the law is safe because Obama wields the veto pen. The greatest threat to Obamacare was never a Romney presidency but Obamacare itself. The law remains vulnerable because of its unpopularity, the compromises that unpopularity forced on its authors and the Supreme Court's ruling that part of it is unconstitutional. These factors guarantee repeal will remain a viable issue, and -- I predict -- that the president will ultimately sign a bill making major changes, at the very least (Michael F. Cannon, 11/30).

The Washington Post: A Much-Needed Medicaid Reform
Medicaid has grown dramatically since its inception in 1965. It now accounts for 8.5 percent of all federal spending, and just under a quarter of all state spending. Between 1970 and 2010, the program quintupled from half a percent of gross domestic product to 2.7 percent. Federal forecasters expect Medicaid to reach 3.7 percent of GDP by 2020 -- due in large part to increased enrollment under health-care reform. Any serious plan to reduce the federal debt has to deal with spending, and, given the foregoing numbers, any serious plan to deal with spending has to address Medicaid. The question is how (11/29).

Baltimore Sun: Facing The Fiscal Cliff, Obama Can't Back Down Again
As official Washington nervously ponders the approaching fiscal cliff and the potential economic chaos it entails, President Barack Obama faces a precipice of his own in the challenge of making use of his re-election victory. Unless he emerges from this, the last major crisis of his first term, with the appearance of political strength and skill in navigating it, he risks losing public confidence that he has the stuff to take the country where he wants it to go in his second term. More than the specific details of any deal with House Speaker John Boehner and his resistant Republican cohorts on taxes and spending, Mr. Obama needs to demonstrate more steel in confronting GOP obstructionism than he showed in the previous showdown over deficit reduction (Jules Witcover, 11/30).

Minnesota Post: REAL ID, No Child Left Behind, And The Future Of The Affordable Care Act
The ACA's health care exchanges appear to be the next in a series of ambitious federal programs that share the following lineage: The establishment of sweeping goals without clear funding mechanisms, followed by implementation during a period of economic crisis. While Congress may be able to muster the political will to enact such programs, the federal government increasingly seems to be unable to whipsaw states into complying with the vast complexities and costs of their mandates. ... It is almost certain that the ACA's directive to run millions of uninsured Americans through (largely) non-existent state exchanges will face similar hurdles (Matt Ehling, 11/29).

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