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I know, I know.  It's a head fake to suck the Republicans into a trap they can't get out of.  It's just a ploy.  Obama doesn't really mean it.  And, of course, it hasn't happened yet.  I think that covers the most frequent rationalizations for why Obama, a purportedly Democratic President, would even talk about cutting entitlement benefits.  But .....

One idea that the president has reportedly floated with Republican leaders: Changing the structure of Medicare in a way that would increase many retirees’ out of pocket costs. Currently, deductibles for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care, are much higher than those for Part B, which covers doctor and outpatient visits. (For this year, the Part A deductible is just under $1,200; for Part B, it’s $147.) Some critics have argued that this disparity, and the low Part B deductible in particular, drives up the program’s overall costs by encouraging unneeded treatment. And Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear of the New York Times report this week that Obama recently told GOP leaders he’d be open to restructuring Parts A and B in a way that could create a single, higher deductible.
This is ok because (i) Eric Cantor suggested something similar; (ii) Obama may seek to cap retirees out-of-pocket expenses, which would eliminate Medigap insurance (as if the insurers will roll over on that one); and, of course, (iii) Obama.

But that's not all.  There's that perennial favorite, the chained CPI ...

Separately, the Wall Street Journal’s Damian Palletta reports that Obama’s budget will likely back the use of a “chained” consumer price index in calculating future Social Security benefits. Backers of a chained CPI argue that the government’s current inflation measures overstate the impact of price increases; its opponents argue that the current measures already fail to keep up with real changes in retired people’s costs of living, including health-care costs.
But, hey, just trial balloons, although enough balloons by now to fill a Republican presidential nominating convention.  Or at least a moderately Republican nominating convention, which is currently known as the Democratic Party Convention.

Originally posted to accumbens on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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