“Fiscal cliff” cruelty

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/12/10/fiscal_cliff_cruelty/

Hiking the eligibility age is such a terrible idea Obama can’t possibly be considering it. Or can he?

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Monday, Dec 10, 2012

I want to put a public service announcement on top of this post: The fiscal cliff scenarios discussed here may never become reality. The worst sellouts of liberal principles allegedly under consideration by the White House, particularly a hike in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, may be trial balloons by staffers, or outrages floated in order to make other compromises more palatable to progressives later. Besides, given the stranglehold the Tea Party still has on John Boehner, President Obama can afford to make bad proposals and even promises: right-wing extremists will probably never agree to the tax hikes that would force him to keep them.  He could promise that David Axelrod would not only shave off his stache but cut off his nose, confident that his advisor’s schnoz would stay put.

And I admit: I’ve howled at reports of Obama “betrayals” before, only to find later that the president negotiated a better deal than early reports showed, Exhibit A being the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits he got in exchange for extending the Bush tax cuts after the “shellacking” of the 2010 midterm elections.

Still, progressives are right to howl at reports, most reliably from Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, that the White House is prepared to make big compromises to achieve a fiscal-cliff deal. Klein reported Friday that “smart folks” say the administration is prepared to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and compromise on top tax rates, bringing them to 37 percent, not the 39.6 percent they’ll go to Dec. 31, to avert the supposed “cliff.”

These are terrible ideas. Raising the Medicare eligibility age is so bad that I literally can’t believe the president would consider it. Even though there’s evidence he might. But New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait believes it, and moreover, he thinks it’s a compromise liberals should accept. “Summary argument,” Chait wrote defending his case: “It carries disproportionate symbolic weight with Republicans, people will still be covered by Obamacare, and it will create a constituency against Republicans’ efforts to nullify Obamacare.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/12/10/fiscal_cliff_cruelty/

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