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Deficit cutters target upper-income Medicare beneficiaries

McClatchy Newspapers, November 15, 2011

In the scramble to come up with a deficit-reduction deal by Thanksgiving, members of Capitol Hill's supercommittee appear to have one group squarely in their crosshairs: high-income Medicare beneficiaries. Some fiscal conservatives argue that the federal government shouldn't help finance healthcare benefits for the rich. "Frankly, if you're a wealthy person, the taxpayers should not subsidize your (Medicare)," said Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. "You're retired. You own your own home. ... You're making $165,000 a year. No, faced with a $37 trillion unfunded liability in Medicare, the answer is no, we're not going to pay for you." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has left the door open to asking wealthy seniors to pay more, and public opinion polls show support for the idea. But some seniors' advocates see attempts to pry more from upper-income seniors as risky today, and a threat to the middle class tomorrow.