Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dems Pop Trial Balloon on Raising Retirement Age


. . . when the question comes to what concessions the Democrats are going to have to accept, rather than what policy makes the most sense, raising the Medicare age seems like a sensible bone to throw the right.
. . . raising the Medicare retirement age would help strengthen the fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act.
. . . a side effect of raising the Medicare retirement age would be that a large cohort of 65- and 66-year-olds would suddenly find themselves needing the Affordable Care Act to buy their health insurance. Which is to say, Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act would no longer be attacking the usual band of very poor or desperate people they can afford to ignore but a significant chunk of middle-class voters who have grown accustomed to the assumption that they will be able to afford health care.
~ Jonathan Chait, NYMag

Let’s look at Chait’s reasoning. I would probably start with the fact that he’s not 64 or 65. My parents are, and until my dad reached Medicare in November, they were paying $2,500 a month on the private market for health insurance. So I’ll be happy to provide him with their phone number so he can tell them how it’s “tolerable” for them to spend two years more than they expected doing that.
~ David Dayen on FireDogLake

 FireDogLake’s David Dayen has a long post calling my argument “miserable,” which is impressive enough for Atrios to award me the coveted “Wanker of the Day” title. (“Wanker” is a leftie blog cliché used to describe people who deviate from the left-liberal line but aren’t conservatives. Say, Tom Friedman.)
It has been a long time since I’ve won Wanker of the Day, and the rush of gratitude has me feeling a bit flustered. So many people to thank! Let’s see: the hosts of Georgetown cocktail parties to which I hope to one day earn an invitation by selling out liberals. My secretive corporate masters. And, of course, my supporting cast colleagues.
Jonathan Chait on NYMag

. . . color me appalled by David Dayan’s piece at FDL early this morning barbecuing Chait as a sell-out peddling “idiocy,” among other choice epithets. Atrios piled on by naming Chait his “Wanker of the Day” ...
So why the categorical vitriol aimed at Chait? I dunno. Maybe it involves old grudges...
~ comment by Ed Kilgore on Washington Monthly

Jeebus It's Not High School
No it's not personalities and grudges and Jon Chait gave me a wedgie once so now I'm gonna be mean to the poor defenseless guy.
It's that people have hard f***ing lives and raising the Medicare eligibility age will cost money, not save money, and also kill people.
So, no, not calm.
~ Atrios on EschatonBlog

That’s not a policy I like much, but New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait accurately conveys the White House thinking here: They see it as having “weirdly disproportionate symbolic power,” as it’s not a huge (or smart) cut to Medicare benefits, and most of the pain will be blunted by the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans and self-styled deficit hawks see it as a big win. And Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who staunchly opposes raising the retirement age, has stopped well short of ruling it out.
~ Ezra Klein on Washington Post

Once again, Ezra, who sits at a desk for a living, can join Jon on a conference call with 65 and 66 year-olds to tell them why it’s so tolerable for them to wait two years – out of a life expectancy of another 15-20 – for Medicare benefits they paid into all their lives. I don’t know, 10-15% reductions in the benefit sounds like a lot to me, especially when you consider that poorer people, with a lower life expectancy, lose more of the benefit. When you add in that this only saves a meager amount of money for canceling 10-15% of the lifetime benefit, it makes it all the more horrible a trade. And you can’t phase this in slowly if you want to save any money with it.
. . . In new-Chait-world where concessions have to be made, raising the eligibility age, which makes health insurance more expensive for every American and has a regressive impact, is just a really bad concession. I can hardly think of a worse one.
. . . Chait’s whole point is that there would be political benefits here. Bad policy does not make for good politics, at least not in this case.
~ David Dayen on FireDogLake

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 (Very Serious People) 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.
. . .  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?
If anyone in the White House is seriously thinking along these lines, please stop it right now.
Paul Krugman on NY Times

Raise the eligibility age and PEOPLE WILL DIE.
No, that’s not an exaggeration, and the failure of certain wonks to take that into consideration speaks to their isolation from everyday people, even the everyday people who provide services to them, such as grocery-store clerks, waitresses, and construction workers in right-to-work states. These are people who cannot wait until they’re 67 for the full complement of Medicare benefits.
. . . But if everyone in your family is college-educated and has a good job with adequate health insurance, why would it even cross your mind that not everybody does?
Here’s my hope: that this rumor is being floated in order to create enormous pushback from the left that would give Obama cover for rejecting it. Time to push.
~ Adele Stan on Washington Monthly

Sell-Out of the Century?
. . . If this is true — and right now it is a very big if — then it represents the greatest sell-out of a winning political coalition since LBJ ran on “not sending American boys to Vietnam.”
~ Jonathan Zasloff

 Wow, Chait, if you're going to soak everyone's grandma for $20B per year in added costs, just to satisfy your journalist's "Art of the Deal" lust, you'd better get a thicker skin. 
Oh. And can I please sell you a car? I would love to hear in advance what concessions you're willing to make before the negotiation begins.  
"Narcisissistic wanker" hardly begins to cover the stupidity Chait displays in his first and second posts.
comment by Dollared on NYMag

Normally I like Chait's posts, but if he wants to raise the Medicare retirement age, a needlessly cruel idea that won't actually save any money, then wanker is probably too kind. Are you allowed to say filthy knob gobbler on the Daily Intel?
comment by WTF123 on NYMag
What's annoying about Chait's "concession" is the implication that some cuts to benefits are necessary to complete "the deal". Obama, himself, has pointed out repeatedly that cuts to a program (such as reduced payments to providers) do not require cuts to benefits to beneficiaries. It has the appearance of a floated balloon which those of us seeking to protect the safety net do not appreciate.
comment by JackD on Washington Monthly

...Here, the left is trying to come up with a single, coherent message (no cuts to Medicare benefits, including eligibility-age increases), and Jon Chait is undermining that message by breaking ranks. That Chait knows that no concessions are necessary makes his comments more galling.
Without being able to see into Dday or Atrios' heart of hearts, I'm gonna say this probably isn't all that personal against Chait. He muddied the message, so a strong show of disapproval was necessary to show that the left is not behind his proposal.
~ comment by GangisKhan on Washington Monthly

This would definitely dwarf the 'war on Christmas'. It would also make Scrooge look like an amateur.
~ comment by Notta Vailable on NYT

If President Obama betrays the American people by raising the age of Medicare coverage, he will regret this for the rest of his days. What is the point of pushing people around like that?
~ comment by Kathleen on NYT

The potential deal reported by Ezra Klein might be a rumor created by Republicans hoping to influence the outcome. Republicans apparent think that Geithner was bluffing and that Obama doesn't have the fortitude to wait until January for a deal. If Obama were to accept the deal rumored by Klein, it would undermine the entire second term of his presidency.
~ comment by Fred D. on NYT

If the President is actually idiotic enough to sell out his base to that extent FOR NO REAL REASON, then I'm pretty sure that the reaction from that base--including a march on Washington by unions and other working people between 55 and 65 years of age, as well as highly visible and disruptive protests at his inauguration--will make Occupy Wall Street look like a church social.
He can't possibly be that deluded in his centrism. This has to be a trial balloon intended to make us all feel better about the slightly less onerous sellout that he's actually planning.
~ comment by Kevin E. on NYT

Oh brother. It looks like the zombies ate Ezra's brain.
~ comment by Peter S. on NYT

I'm not buying it. I'm thinking that Ezra is listening to the wrong "smart folks in Washington" and is perhaps become a funnel for trial balloons himself.
~ comment by Ohmmade on NYT

Usually "Asking the smart pundits" means "emailing Tom Friedman, David Brooks, and George Will". And he doesn't really believe 65 to 67 is going to happen, anyway.
Remember that it has to get past the Senate as well. Just watch one member of the D Caucus put a big ol' wad of Bubble Yum in those gears prior to reforming the filibuster after New Year's Day. I hope it's cherry flavored.
Nothingburger, as always with these panics.
~ comment by Dr. Squid on Daily Kos

I'm certain though that our best approach is to shout to the rooftops now, rather than rely on rescue by the Senate.
. . . if this piece by Klein is a trial balloon, let's shoot it out of the sky with a bloody bazooka. Even if that turns out to be unnecessary, the point will have been made that there really are lines progressives will never be prepared to cross.
~ comment by PhilJD on Daily Kos

Ed Rendell and Lawrence O'Brien have also been speculating smugly about how significant the benefit cuts will be and how the base will just have to shut up about it. MSNBC is shilling big time for the bitter pill. Of course, it's only bitter for the working poor. Congress isn't giving up their healthcare and neither is the pundit class.
~ comment by greenbell on Daily Kos

If the goal is to keep the Medicare system running as efficiently as possible, we should be looking into ways to lower the age of Medicare eligibility, not ways to increase it. The Republican plan chips away at Medicare affordability - one of its greatest strengths - seemingly by design. I'm willing to compromise, but I'm not willing to compromise the health and economic security of seniors and everyone who hopes to become a senior.
. . . Compromise to address the fiscal cliff is not an end; it is a means to an end: preserving the health and well being of all Americans. We can fashion a bipartisan deal that keeps seniors' retirement security preserved. We can take a step back from the fiscal cliff without breaking our promise to seniors.
We can get this done and done right, but raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67 is a nonstarter for me, and it's a nonstarter for many of my Democratic colleagues.
~ John Garamendi on Calitics

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