Yesterday Ezra Klein, at the Washington Post, wrote a piece that’s gotten a lot of attention. (emphasis added throughout post)
The fiscal cliff deal comes clearer: a 37% top tax rate and a higher Medicare eligibility age
Right now, the fiscal cliff negotiations are proceeding on two tracks.
One track includes the press releases, public statements and legislative tactics the two parties are deploying to prove the purity of their faith and their commitment to beating the other side to a bloody pulp. …
The other track includes the offers, counteroffers and red lines proposed by Boehner and President Obama. If you look at these closely, a deal is taking shape. …
Talk to smart folks in Washington, and here’s what they think will happen: The final tax deal will raise rates a bit, giving Democrats a win, but not all the way back to 39.6 percent, giving Republicans a win. That won’t raise enough revenue on its own, so it will be combined with some policy to cap tax deductions … .
… There will be a variety of nips and tucks to Medicare, including more cost-sharing and decreases in provider payments, and the headline Democratic concession is likely to be that the Medicare eligibility age rises from 65 to 67.
Just yesterday, some indication about the accuracy of some of this: Biden: Tax Rates for Top Earners Have to Rise, But There’s Room to Deal.
Paul Krugman responds at the NY Times:
I Hope This Isn’t True
Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age.
I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it’s a VSP fantasy about how we’re going to resolve this in a bipartisan way. Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay. …
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?
Good question. Based on past experience, I think there’s a fairly good chance that while some would take such a move very seriously, and let that be known, more would probably say the other side is worse, and we’re remain in lesser evildom.
Some analysis from Richard Eskow, at Nation of Change:
A Higher Medicare Age Means a Lower Quality of Life
It’s almost impossible to believe: With the private-sector economy struggling and politicians worried about government spending, the biggest proposal on the table is raising the Medicare age to 67. That would take far more out of household budgets than it would save in government spending “” and the savings would be short-lived.
What’s more, it would impose terrible hardships on lots of people. …
A Kaiser Foundation study showed that “˜raising Medicare’s eligibility to 67 in 2014 would generate an estimated $5.7 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also result in an estimated net increase of $3.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree health-care costs.’
So it would save $5.7 billion from the Federal budget in the first year, but it would cost everyone else $8.2 billion. That means it would increase overall health care costs by $2.5 billion.
“˜Among the estimated 5 million affected 65- and 66-year-olds,’ the Kaiser study reports, “˜about two in three would pay an average of $2,200 more for their health care in 2014 than they would have paid if covered under Medicare.’
And those costs would skyrocket in the following years.
“Shared sacrifice,” lesser evildome style, into the future.
It’s been a long time since I read Animal Farm. but I keep thinking of the line that morphed from “All animals are equal” to include “but some animals are more equal than others.”