Baucus Pushing Medicare Cuts, Tax Hikes

Aaron Flint posted on June 24, 2011 08:59 :: 1105 Views

Higher taxes.  Steeper cuts to Medicare. A payroll tax deduction.  All are apparently on the table, as new details become available from Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).  

Reuters has the latest:  

(Reuters) – U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a member of Vice President Joe Biden’s deficit-reduction working group, on Thursday said new revenues had to be part of a balanced deal to reduce spending and increase the country’s borrowing authority.

The liberal “Talking Points Memo” has this:

“I’m disappointed that Leader Cantor’s withdrawn,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus during a hearing on health care spending. “I think we should stay at the table. I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts — additional Medicare cuts — so long as there is commensurate additional revenue. We need balance here.”

Baucus made clear that the talks frayed over Democrats’ insistence that tax increases of some sort be part of the final deal.

Meanwhile, liberal blogger Daily Kos balks at Medicare cuts now being mentioned by Baucus as part of the Biden Group talks.

And there, apparently, is the deal the Biden negotiators have been working on: “Medicare cuts—additonal Medicare cuts”—for revenue increases. Presumably that means they were already talking Medicare cuts, and then tossed in extra ones in order to try to get some revenue increases.

Democrats have very successfully made a very big deal out of their commitment to protecting Medicare from Republicans. They’ve done so because it’s good policy and good politics. Good luck in 2012 if they renege on that commitment now.

Aside from tax hikes and Medicare cuts, as I previously mentioned on The Flint Report, Senate Democrats (Schumer) have been discussing the idea of a payroll tax deduction as a sort of second round stimulus bill.  I contacted Senator Baucus’ office to hear his specific thoughts on a payroll tax deduction, here’s what a spokesperson had to say:  

Max is committed to doing everything possible to help the economy and create jobs in Montana.        

Recently, he helped pass a law to reduce employee payroll taxes by two percentage points in 2011.  This means that all workers in Montana who pay Social Security tax, including self-employed individuals, take home more of their hard-earned wages this year.  In most cases, this payroll tax holiday will boost incomes for Montanans by hundreds of dollars this year.  These wages and salaries get reinvested in our communities and help support local businesses and create new jobs.       

Last year, he spearheaded a bill that gave private businesses a payroll tax holiday for every unemployed individual they hired.  And for every worker that stayed on for a full year, the employer received a $1,000 income tax credit.       

Max believes we need to find more commonsense solutions like these to help get our economy moving and Montanans back to work. 

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