Means testing won’t reduce Medicare costs enough for Republicans who want a big deal on entitlements and the idea still outrages some liberal Democrats in the House and Senate who fear that it’s a foot in the door to much deeper cuts to the senior-citizen health care program.
And even though Democrats are open to this one cost cutting move, they are saying no to increasing the eligibility age on Medicare; no to touching Social Security; and no to cutting into Medicaid programs that cover the poor and disabled. Many of these concerns were voiced directly by liberals to White House economic adviser Gene Sperling in a closed-door Senate Democratic lunch on Thursday.
Yet as an olive branch to Republicans, a number of Senate Democrats are ready to drop their long-standing opposition to Medicare means testing if it means the GOP will raise taxes on the top 2 percent of wage earners and if it’s part of a large, deficit reduction plan.
But there is an overwhelming opposition in the Senate and House Democratic caucuses to going any further, showing just how little room President Barack Obama has to maneuver as he tries to reach a deal with House Speaker John Boehner on the fiscal cliff.