One fiscal crisis is winding down, but another round of budget negotiations looms. And that could mean Social Security and Medicare cuts will again be part of the conversation.
President Barack Obama signed a measure on Oct. 17 that reopened the government and preempted a default. But, says the Washington Post, the deal’s “timeline sets up another potentially bitter showdown over spending cuts and entitlement programs that will unfold in the halls of Congress over the next four months by starting a new round of talks on reducing government spending.”
“For now, Social Security and Medicare are protected,” says David Certner, AARP legislative policy director. “But the deal calls for further negotiation, and some want Social Security and Medicare cuts to be on the table in the next round.”
Pamela Tainter-Causey, spokeswoman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, stated bluntly: “Once again the austerity squad in Congress will try to balance the budget on the backs of seniors by proposing benefit cutting and cost-shifting measures that will have long-lasting economic repercussions for generations to come.”
As part of the deal, a budget panel to be headed by Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, and Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who chairs the House Budget Committee, would be charged with producing a “negotiated budget resolution” in December that would help prevent the frequent budget crises of recent years.
On the table may be such past proposals as a cut in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment through a less generous inflation formula – the so-called chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) – and increased premiums and cost sharing for Medicare benefits.
AARP is opposed to the chained CPI.
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