The GOP-controlled House of Representatives approved a budget proposal first. Then came a very different document from the Democratic-controlled Senate. Now thousands more pages of numbers will land with a thud on Capitol Hill on April 10.
Unless you’re an underemployed CPA or an incurable policy wonk, you probably won’t want to wade through all that. So here’s a short checklist of what you should watch for in the budget:
- A chained CPI. This twist on the Consumer Price Index would lower the annual cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security and other federal programs that help millions of older Americans keep up with inflation. The House budget doesn’t address a chained CPI, though many Republicans have supported it in the past. The Senate bill specifically opposes it, and so do AARP and other advocacy organizations.
- A big change in the way Medicare is set up. Will President Obama propose combining Medicare parts A and B, which cover hospitalization and office visits? That approach, similar to a plan House Majority Leader Eric Cantor proposed in February, could change premiums for many seniors.
- Cuts in payments to Medicare providers. Obama has, for example, in the past proposed cutting how much Medicare pays drug companies. CNN reports that Obama will propose a total of $400 billion in Medicare cuts over the next 10 years.
- More means testing for Medicare. The president could propose changes that leave wealthier beneficiaries paying more.
- Tax increases. Obama is weighing a new tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products (to fund preschool education), Politico reports. The Associated Press reports that the president’s budget plan includes $580 billion in new taxes that Republicans oppose.
- An IRA cap. Politico also reports that the president is considering a $3 million ceiling on tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Accounts.
- Deficit reduction. Obama’s plan likely will include $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years – less than Republicans want but more than current law.
- Protection for Medicaid. As the budget ax falls in many places, the White House seems likely to protect Medicaid because expansion of coverage for low-income Americans is a key part of his new health care law.
- Programs for older Americans. Obama’s budget might replace cuts made by the sequester to Meals on Wheels, legal aid, job training and aid to caregivers.
Also of Interest
- Obama Ready to Propose Big Changes to Medicare, Social Security?
- Another Disabled Senator Heads for the Exit
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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