(The following post first appeared on Unionosity and is republished with permission.)
A group of 200 CEOs known as the Business Roundtable made some unsurprising recommendations for debt reduction [Wednesday], suggesting cutting entitlement programs and pushing the age of eligibility for Medicare and Social Security to 70. The recommendations, which the group plans to make to both Congress and the President, also resist any increased Social Security taxation on wealthy Americans.
The group would push the age at which full Social Security benefits are paid to 70 for those now aged 54 and under. Currently, the age for collecting full benefits depends on year of birth. Someone born between 1946 and 1953 can take full benefits at age 66. That will rise to age 67 for individuals born in 1960 or after.
The group is explicit in its goals to use the debt ceiling debate as an impetus to push radical policy initiatives.
I want to vote for a comprehensive bipartisan plan to address the fiscal cliff. I’m willing to take a tough vote. I’m willing to make sacrifices. I’m willing to feel the heat. But I’m not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff. I draw the line at cutting benefits in Medicare and Social Security.
This week, House Republicans unveiled their fiscal cliff counterproposal. While they continue to call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they propose offsetting this cost by gutting Medicare benefits, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. I won’t go there. As California’s Insurance Commissioner for eight years, I know this would be horrible policy, throwing millions of seniors into the rapacious hands of an insurance industry interested only in profits for its shareholders.
Medicare is a promise we made to seniors more than four decades ago.
In the recently convened “lame-duck” session of Congress, senators and representatives will take on a number of issues that could have major consequences for working families and retirees. Congress is considering benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and members are looking at cutting taxes for the wealthy even further. Any deal that Congress makes, though, should be based on facts and not the myths that have sprung up around taxes, the deficit and the earned benefit programs. Here are a few of the key myths and the truth behind them.
Myth: Extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent is important because the economy is weak.
Economists agree that cutting taxes on the wealthy is one of the least effective ways to stimulate the economy. A much better use of the $1 trillion cost of those tax cuts would be to invest in infrastructure or extend unemployment benefits.
Within the padded walls of the House of Representatives, few agenda items consume more time than figuring out how to overturn President Obama’s health care reform law – and, looking down the road a little, how to scuttle Medicare as we know it. These two causes, along with countering the daily menace of Sharia law at the county courthouse, are what make certain conservatives get up early in the morning. Yet now a Commonwealth Fund survey shows that when it comes to Medicare, at least, most senior citizens are quite happy with the government-provided service they receive.
According to the survey, “Only eight percent of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 or older rated their insurance as fair or poor, compared with 20 percent of adults with employer-sponsored insurance and 33 percent of adults purchasing coverage in the individual market.”
Who would want to fix something so obviously not broken?