I had hoped Obama would refrain from screwing us over until after
The outcome of the fiscal cliff negotiations will tell us whether we have the new, better Obama we all hoped for, or whether we're stuck with four more years of Mr. Compromise. Ezra Klein tells us to expect the latter
: A 37% tax rate for the upper earners (down from 39.6% under Clinton) and a raise in the Medicare eligibility age.
Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes won’t do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what.
So this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give away two years of Medicare? How’s that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?
I'll tell you how. It'll play right into the Republicans' misleading assertion that Obama "slashed" $700 billion in Medicare funding. He did no such thing, of course, but repetition creates perception, and that perception will be strengthened if Medicare morphs.
If ya asks me, instead of raising the eligibility age, we should lower it -- to birth. Alas, Obama took single payer off the table back in 2009. Instead, he gave us the ACA -- hardly ideal, but better than what we had before -- which will be threatened by the proposed Medicare change.
As David Dayen of Firedoglake
The one thing we know will be a side effect of increasing the Medicare eligibility age is that insurance premiums will skyrocket. It will make Medicare more expensive because they lose relatively healthy 65 and 66 year-olds from their risk pool, and it will make private insurance more expensive because they add relatively sick 65 and 66 year-olds to their risk pool. Insurers hate the idea for just this reason. As a result, everyone’s premiums will rise, and cost-shifting will ensue from the government to its citizens.
People with busy lives don’t differentiate between what provisions in health care can be attributed to the Affordable Care Act and what provisions come from a fiscal deal. They’ll just know that the ACA got implemented in 2014, and as a result their insurance rates jumped.
You want compromise? Here's a better plan for Democrats to lock onto:
1. Hands off Medicare.
2. Let the Republicans raise taxes on the middle class (which we really ought to start calling the working
class, because that's the more accurate term). Make sure they've signed their work. Make sure everyone knows who to blame.
3. Return the upper income tax rate to where it was under Clinton. Remember when we had a surplus...?
4. Offer a plan to keep Social Security solvent -- by raising the cap.
Unfortunately, Obama speaks as though the middle class tax cut must always remain inviolate
while Medicare is chip-away-able.
Bill Clinton obviously found the right tax rates. That economy worked. Let's go back.