WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defiantly rejected any provision that would raise the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 years old.
“Is the president open to raising the eligibility age for Medicare?” Carney was asked during Monday’s daily briefing.
His answer was clear: “No.”
Republicans have proposed increasing the age from 65 to 67 as a way for the federal government to save money because younger retirees would have to buy their own insurance for those two years. Carney said President Obama made clear last year in proposals — from which House Speaker John Boehner “walked away” — that he was open to entitlement reform options but not to changing the Medicare age.
Democrats have argued that raising the eligibility age above 65 would not save enough money and should not even be placed on the table during deficit reduction discussion. Obama had proposed the age raise during debt ceiling talks in July 2011, but he withdrew that offer during “fiscal cliff” dealing in December of last year.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck followed up in a tweet: “I’m personally shocked that the White House is ruling out things it previously supported.”
“The White House keeps saying what they won’t do to replace President Obama’s devastating sequester — when will they tell us what they will do, and call on the Senate Democrats to pass it?” Boehner spokesman Michael Steele said to Talking Points Memo.
The Congressional Budget Office – a non-partisan group – reports that the age change to Medicare would save the government $125 billion over the span of a decade.
Virginia House Republican Eric Cantor showed frustration on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying that a large problem is that every time there are budget talks the president’s response is to raise taxes.
Although the White House appears firm in their stance on raising the Medicare age eligibility, Carney did say that Obama would be open to a reduction in Social Security’s benefit structure as part of a “big deal” that would avoid sequestration.
“He has put forward a technical change, as part of a big deal,” said Carney. “A technical change of CPI is possible as part of a big deal.”