House Democrats seem in search of middle ground in Medicare negotiations

As lawmakers geared up to debate the budget and tax packages that top Democrats are demanding as a condition of reining in the federal deficit, Democratic leaders say they are still in negotiations over…

House Democrats seem in search of middle ground in Medicare negotiations

As lawmakers geared up to debate the budget and tax packages that top Democrats are demanding as a condition of reining in the federal deficit, Democratic leaders say they are still in negotiations over exactly what they want in their plan for reining in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — and that Democrats haven’t yet settled on a number that Republican negotiators will want in the bargain.

Not everybody has been squabbling over nitty-gritty details: Mr. Schumer and House Speaker Paul Ryan both said Thursday that Democrats were making progress on their package.

But early details suggest the differences are significant. Democrats say they want to increase the taxes on some Social Security beneficiaries to pay for the benefit increases they say the program deserves. Republicans say they will oppose any increase in benefits and haven’t specified how they would cover the costs.

Democrats are also seeking to extend the program for retirees to age 70, which would mean shifting the law for others. They are also seeking to expand the child care benefit for pregnant women, which Republicans have resisted.

The sticking point appears to be whether to take the painful steps to extend the program’s life. Senate Democratic leaders want to preserve its eligibility for additional years, but House Republicans are not.

And Republicans say that any deal needs to be paid for, not delivered by passing over Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid as deficit hawks long have suggested.

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