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Top Democrats reject new plan to cut Medicare spending

The Washington Post, June 29, 2011
Leading Congressional Democrats immediately recoiled Tuesday from a new proposal to cut $600 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade -- in part by raising the eligibility age. Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) unveiled the proposal as part of a bipartisan effort to produce the kind of savings necessary to achieve the $2 trillion in debt reduction both parties say is needed to convince reticent lawmakers to vote to raise the debt ceiling. It would raise Medicare?s eligibility age from 65 to 67 and assess higher premiums on wealthier seniors. The proposal echoes Republican demands that entitlement reform -- especially deep cuts in Medicare spending -- be a part of any agreement to raise the nation?s debt ceiling. But the swift rejection of the proposal among Democrats reflects the significant obstacles that remain to any agreement to cut the deficit and raise the nation?s legal borrowing limit. Positions on both sides have been hardening in recent days, as an Aug. 2 deadline for working out a deal before the nation defaults on its obligations approaches.