Throughout the election, Republicans tried to sell Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare reforms by arguing that the party’s proposed changes would not affect current seniors. “Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around,” Ryan argued in his first interview after being named as Mitt Romney’s running mate. “In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger.”
But in negotiating legislation to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Republicans are abandoning this guarantee and pressuring President Obama to accept immediate changes to the program as a “down payment” for larger “structural reform”:
Republicans have countered by arguing for a smaller down payment that must include immediate savings from Medicare and other entitlements….House Republicans say the down payment should be at least $110 billion, the value of the automatic spending cuts they would cancel next year, and they want those savings to come largely from cuts in Medicare and other benefit programs. [...]
But Republicans say they are selling Congress short on what can be done before the January deadline. They made clear that they want some initial changes to entitlement programs ahead of larger talks next year.
Senator Michael D. Crapo, Republican of Idaho and another Gang of Six member, said some initial changes to entitlement programs could and should be in the down payment.
The party has largely dismissed President Obama’s proposal of identifying savings and inefficiencies from providers and drug manufacturers in search of so-called “serious” savings that will surely impact beneficiaries. As Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) bragged on Sunday during an appearance on Meet The Press, “I laid out in great detail very painful cuts to Medicare…. We really have to look at much deeper reforms to the entitlements.”
The GOP has presented a $2.2 trillion counter offer that includes $800 billion in tax reform, $600 billion in health care cuts and $600 billion in other cuts in discretionary and mandatory spending.