Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is pressing GOP centrists to accept a budget that would cut Medicare benefits for recipients who are now 56 years old.
The House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate argues the change is necessary to help him produce a budget next week that balances within 10 years.
He also says that the change must be made and that it is better to adopt it now than next year, when Republicans will face voters in the midterm elections.
The problem for Ryan is that many Republicans have said his budget would not touch Medicare benefits for anyone who is already 55 years old. Members may have trouble supporting a measure that goes back on that commitment.
"The big problem was that a lot of people have been telling people that it's 55 and that's the number," said one lawmaker who attended a meeting Tuesday between Ryan and centrist Republicans. "And if you change it, it's going to make us look like [liars]."
Winning over those centrists is crucial to Ryan, who is expected to see a handful of conservatives vote against his budget. Republicans can afford to lose only 15 Republicans in what is expected to be a party-line vote.
In meeting with the "Tuesday Group," a caucus of GOP centrists, Ryan presented the group with two options, but he seemed to suggest the best way forward was to adopt the change in this year's budget.
"Look, the age is going to have to go up eventually," Ryan told lawmakers at the meeting, according to an attendee.
He explained that the baseline, which reflects January's "fiscal cliff" deal, which raised $600 billion in new tax revenue, meant benefits for those older than 56 would not have to be touched.
But he said that it was impossible not to change benefits for people now 56 and that Republicans could either adopt it as part of their budget now or next year.
"I think we should increase the age this year because I'm either going to have to increase the age this year or next year," Ryan told the group, according to the attendee.
"Do you want me to increase the age now and keep it at 56 next year, or do you want me to keep it at 55 this year and next year at 56?" Ryan asked at the meeting, adding it would give lawmakers a year to explain the change to their constituents before the next election, the attendee said.
It is unclear whether Ryan's preference won over the members.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 03/06/2013
Editor's Note: Here's a question for everyone: Do we elect people to government to do things so that they "look good" or do we elect them to government to "do good"? If the budget reform cutoff for Medicare has to be raised to 56, it must be that way because ALL lawmakers in Washington abdicated their responsibility to execute good government, enacting desperately needed reforms, doing so because they needed to "look good" in the eyes of the low-information voters who put them in office. The numbers are what they are and to demonize the accountant because the numbers are what they are is ridiculous. We say, figure out the numbers that work and spend the next two years explaining them to the low-information voters in each congressional district so that they aren't low-information voters any more...In other words, do your frickin' jobs and stop politicking...Americans are sick to death of politicians and their narcissistic games...govern!
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