President Obama has said he wants to reform entitlements eventually, someday, after Republicans raise taxes. Republicans want the President to sign on to serious reform now as part of any deal, since AARP and the left will kill anything that isn’t passed immediately.
Given the political difficulty of reforming entitlements, Republicans are right to try to get Mr. Obama’s fingerprints on such a deal this year. But the reforms have to be worth it. With that in mind, we thought we’d offer a clip-&-save guide to reforms that would make a difference. None of this is commensurate with the scale of the problem, but then Mr. Obama won’t sign anything that is. These changes are pragmatic and politically realistic, at least if Republicans drive a hard bargain.
• Medicare. ObamaCare exhausted the familiar Beltway gambit of squeezing down Medicare price controls for providers. (Also note that the White House offer of $346 billion in less Medicare spending is far smaller than its $716 billion ObamaCare raid.) Absent a larger reform, that leaves asking seniors to contribute more for benefits and take a larger role in their own care.
Higher-income seniors already receive less of a Medicare subsidy as a result of a George W. Bush policy in 2004 and then again in ObamaCare. A third expansion of means-testing is inevitable, and one useful proposal is known as comprehensive cost sharing.