House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) offered cautious support Tuesday for the idea of adopting further means-testing of Medicare and Social Security to help shore up the finances of both programs. But the devil, he said, will be in the details.
“I don’t want to get into means testing until we look at specific proposals,” Hoyer said at his weekly Capitol briefing in response to a question from TPM. “Generally speaking, we do, as you know, have certain means testing in both Medicare and SS at this point in time. … I think clearly we’re going to have to make both of those programs sustainable over the long run, and I think to some degree it would be clearly appropriate to look at — without endorsing any specific proposal — the insuring that the least well off are protected and to do that look at the best off … in terms of what level of support they get.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) put means-testing on the debt-reduction table in a Wall Street speech Monday. Hoyer’s comments suggests there would be significant Democratic buy-in for such a proposal, depending on the precise structure. But to achieve significant savings through means testing would require fairly deep benefit cuts — not just for the super-rich.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.