House Democrats, it turns out, aren’t big on President Barack Obama offering to work with Republicans to raise the Medicare eligibility age up a couple years as part of a larger debt-reduction package.
Sam Stein reported that five sources said Obama offered an increase in the Medicare eligibility age — from 65 to 67 — in exchange for Republicans moving on increasing tax revenues.
“That would go over in our caucus like a lead balloon,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) told TPM. “I don’t think that when we’re talking about raising the debt ceiling, choice of tremendous magnitude belong in this discussion when we know we only have a limited amount of time before Aug. 2.”
“If Republicans wouldn’t talk about raising taxes on the wealthy, I’m 100 percent against discussing things that are near and dear to us, like Medicare and Social Security,” Engel said. “They can’t have it both ways.”
“I think it’s a non-starter with our caucus,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told TPM. “I think this is no time to be gracious, this is a time that these programs need to be defended as strongly and aggressively as the Republicans are protecting tax cuts for the rich.”
Asked about possible Medicare cuts, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) turned her head to the side and grimaced.
“I do not agree with that, and I don’t agree with it because of my constituents. I represent mostly African-Americans. They will pay Medicare taxes throughout there careers, and by the time they are 60 — especially black men — they’re dead,” Wilson said. “So 65 was a stretch. That’s a non-starter. They deserve that after working so hard, that’s too late. That’s too late.”
Other Democrats wouldn’t rule it out completely, but said it would have to look at it in context of a larger debt deal.
“I wouldn’t want to comment on that in isolation,” Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) told TPM. “I will say this though: I’m willing to consider any broad agreement that significantly reduces the deficit that is equitable and fair. So although that proposal is not one I’m instinctively happy about, I wouldn’t want to rule it out in the context of such a deal.”