Obama backing off Big Three cuts?

Maybe, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“As the president has consistently said, he does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near- and medium-term deficits,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement.

Changing the inflation formula so Social Security benefits grow more slowly and raising the Medicare eligibility age were ideas Mr. Obama had been willing to accept this summer, when he was trying to strike a deficit-reduction deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).

Instead of raising the Medicare eligibility age, the White House is considering recommending cuts to providers and possibly increasing premiums for wealthier recipients, people familiar with the discussions say. It’s also possible the president would propose changing the inflation calculation for other government programs, which currently use the same measure as Social Security does. The White House declined to comment on those discussions.

One of the problems with the President validating the idea that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security need to be “saved” through cuts is that it opens the door for very different meanings as to how savings can be achieved. I’m sure there are ways to reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid that won’t affect the delivery of care. But that’s a very different conversation than one about raising the age people qualify for this care. Opening the door to cuts puts everything on the table and allows Republicans to use the exact same frame as Obama to push ideas which will make more Americans rely on private insurance longer and at higher cost.

I really hope the President doesn’t go down the path of cuts to the Big Three social support programs. But I’m not going to take the word of a White House spokesperson as gospel, as only a few months ago the President himself was calling for the exact same cuts that were reported on yesterday. The proof will be in the proposal the President actually makes to Congress and the text of legislation that he asks them to pass.

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