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Morning Action: The Truth About Medicare

MEDICARE.  Some people are blaming the sequester for the decrease in cancer patients’ access to Medicare treatment.  Heritage untangles the spin:

But policymakers and taxpayers alike may want to take a closer look: Immediately ahead, for fiscal year 2013, the total effect of sequestration will be $3 billion. That is the same amount Obamacare is supposed to reduce Medicare spending this year.

But if Medicare patients can’t access vitally needed care because of $6 billion in total reduced Medicare payments, they’d better prepare for next year. That’s when Obamacare cuts an estimated $41 billion out of Medicare—in addition to the Medicare sequestration cuts of $9 billion that year.

The total effect of sequestration on Medicare benefit spending is $100 billion from 2013 to 2023. Those cuts pale in comparison to the $716 billion in Medicare payment reductions required by Obamacare over the same time period.

DEFICIT DEAL. President Obama may be willing to offer some entitlement reforms in exchange for tax hikes from Republicans.  He and his administration suggest that they want a balanced approach that “economists say is best for the economy.”

Under a proposal that would cut the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, the president will offer to apply a less generous measure of inflation to calculate cost-of-living increases, the official said on condition of anonymity. That change would result in lower payments to some beneficiaries of the Social Security program for retirees and is staunchly opposed by many congressional Democrats as well as labor and retiree groups.

This type of deal should be a red flag, though.  It won’t be the first time the promise of entitlement reform and spending cuts is not honored even though taxes are increased.

FAA. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) used some pretty stale data to justify their spending habits:

The government has been using 30-year-old data on aircraft collisions to justify the cost of operating control towers at small airports even though accident rates have improved significantly over that time.

Had the Federal Aviation Administration used more current data, it’s probable that some low-traffic airport towers operated by private contractors would no longer have met the agency’s criteria for funding, industry officials said. But the FAA has long been under pressure from members of Congress to open new towers at airports in their states, not close them.

TAXES. Have congressional Republicans really closed the door to new taxes?

In fact, senior House Republicans tell me they are open to exchanging entitlement reform for new taxes — $250 billion to $300 billion, or approximately the amount that Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed raising over 10 years under the guise of “tax reform.”

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Sequester cuts to Medicare pale in comparison to cuts from Obamacare.

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President Obama is asking for tax hikes in exchange for some entitlement reforms.

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Some congressional Republicans may open the door for new taxes again.

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