In the latest parrying and positioning over a deal to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases, leading congressional Democrats now say they’re willing to trade some increased means testing of Medicare in return for the Republicans accepting tax increases.

In Capitol Hill language, “means testing” (or more precisely “income relating”) means targeting benefits, payments or tax breaks to people who fall below a certain income level, or denying benefits, payments or tax breaks to people who are “too wealthy” to need them. …

Leading congressional Democrats – Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, as well as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus — have indicated they’re open to more means testing in the Medicare program as part of an accord to avoid the fiscal cliff.