There seems to be a lot of wink and nodding these days in D.C. from those involved in the talks surrounding the fiscal cliff. In this morning's Huffington Post, Erskine Bowles refers to the negotiations between the White House and Speaker Boehner's office as elements of "Kabuki" theater. If you're not yet aware what Kabuki theater is, you should be by now. It's where the steps are already laid out, and there's a public show for the bases, while the deal is being made behind closed doors without public involvement, which seems to be anti-democratic.
"I'm a little more encouraged than I would have been if you had asked me about it a week ago," Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the so-called Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission, said on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday.

"You know, we were going through the Kabuki theater, you know, one side making an offer and the other side rejecting it. And that's natural in any deal," said Bowles.

But "they've started to tango now. And, you know, any time you have two guys in there tangoing you have a chance to get it done," he said.

Bill Clinton has said the same bout the deal-making going on in Washington, D.C., between the White House and Speaker Boehner's office, according to this news report by CBS two days ago:
Talks between President Obama and congressional Republicans over the so-called "fiscal cliff" are seemingly stalled, but former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday didn't seem too concerned.

"It's just a Kabuki dance," Clinton said at an event in Sacramento, Calif., the Sacramento Bee reports. "They're sort of like two dogs that meet each other over a piece of meat. They're sniffing each other out. They are moving toward a deal. That's what's going on."

The signs are not good for Medicare and Medicaid since some of the reports indicate that an emerging deal would involve a raise in the eligibility age for Medicare and the chained CPI formula (which would hit seniors in the pocketbooks).
A possible compromise on whether the top tax rates would revert to Clinton-era levels or somewhere in between started being floated at the end of last week, as did raising the Medicare eligibility age, something that at least Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has strongly and publicly opposed. Congressional Democrats have also insisted that Social Security be out of the picture entirely, but that reduction in cost-of-living increases, the chained CPI, has never explicitly been yanked off the table.
It would be freaking madness to raise the age of eligibility for seniors on Medicare by the White House. They'd be taking away national health care from those who are just barely holding on until they make it to 65 years of age, and putting them back at the mercy of private insurers.

Some seem to think that seniors between the ages of 65 and 67 would be shunted off onto Obamacare, making it a better program. But that's not the case. The premiums would be prohibitively expensive for those seniors, and the health problems associated with these seniors would increase the costs of medical spending in Obamacare and for families using it as well. Here are what these hidden costs of raising the eligibility age of Medicare would mean:

Let's focus on those 65- and 66-year-olds. In Medicare, they're currently the youngest and healthiest people. So by delaying their entry into the program, says Neuman, you raise costs for everyone else already there.

The result would be that "people on Medicare pay higher premiums," she said. "That's because you're taking the healthiest people out of the Medicare risk pool, leaving sicker people to pay higher premiums."

At the same time, those same 65- and 66-year-olds would be the oldest and, likely, among the sickest people remaining in the insurance pools of the working-age population, particularly in the new health insurance exchanges.

"That means that they are raising the average risk of people in the exchanges, so that younger people in the exchanges, everybody in the exchanges, will see premiums rise, but especially so for those who are younger," Neuman says.

The White House needs to hear from those who are holding on until they are eligible for Medicare, just as to why raising the age for Medicare is really a bad idea. They also should hear from those who do not support this bad-deal making. It's also bad deal-making to kick seniors between 65 and 67 off Medicare onto the private insurance market just to get a tiny increase on the tax rates for the wealthy.

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Originally posted to slinkerwink on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Dailykos Kossacks For Action, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Policy Zone.

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