Faced with mounting pressure to put the clamp on a hemorrhaging federal budget deficit, the White House unveiled Monday a $3.7 trillion budget highlighting a plan that aims to cut more than $1 trillion over the next decade.
Several points have special impact on Americans 50 and older.
- Social Security remains unchanged for the most part. "Social Security is a solemn commitment to America's seniors that we must preserve," President Barack Obama said today.
- "Doc Fix," revisited. Obama's budget would delay by two years the 25 percent Medicare reimbursement cut to doctors. How? By cutting $62 billion from other health care programs.
- The subsidized Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps seniors and lower-income families heat their homes would be cut in half — from $5 billion to $2.5 billion.
Cutting $1 trillion over the next 10 years hardly puts a dent in a projected debt that could top $12 trillion in the same time period. According to analysts, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will account for more than 60 percent of all non-interest federal spending by 2035.
Last year's bipartisan deficit commission aimed for deeper cuts in the deficit with recommendations that included:
- Raising the retirement age to 69 in 2075
- Higher out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare patients
Much to the chagrin of Republicans keen on cutting spending, Obama's new budget has disregarded those recommendations.
Recent national voter polls show Democrats and Republicans alike are loathe to touch treasured entitlement programs — especially those that affect people over 50 — but at the end of the day, something has to give.