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The Fiscal Cliff: What Deal Would You Cut?

Massachusetts Democrats in Congress want to avoid cuts in benefits as part of any deal, but proposals such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare are still on the table. What would you do?

As Congress negotiates a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, Massachusetts' congressional representatives have voiced their opposition to any cuts in benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Boston Globe reports.

However, there are proposals still on the table that would change those benefit programs, including linking Social Security benefits to a more conservative inflation index that would slightly reduce annual increases, or raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

The Globe reported that while the Bay State's legislators were united against changes to Social Security, there's some wiggle room on Medicare. Rep. Ed Markey opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age; Rep. Michael Capuano would consider raising the age in trade for higher tax rates on the wealthy; and Rep. Richard Neal would consider raising the eligibility of Medicare by one month a year.

The fiscal cliff is partly a result of a deal struck in August 2011 to raise the debt ceiling. On Jan. 1, the Bush tax cuts would expire, as would extended unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut. There would also be $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, an automatic reduction if a joint Congressional committee couldn't come up with a list of cuts to present to lawmakers for approval.

Without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, a White House report says that a Massachusetts family of four, earning $86,000, would see its income taxes rise by $2,200, the Globe reports.

Some pundits have advocated going over the fiscal cliff—not striking a deal, allowing the tax cuts to expire and spending cuts to go into effect on Jan. 1—as a way to strengthen their side in tax negotations or to rationalize the tax code.

The Tax Policy Center has created a calculator that shows the effect the fiscal cliff would have on different households, and allows comparisons with alternative tax policies presented by both Democrats and Republicans.

What deal would you strike to avoid the fiscal cliff? Which tax cuts would you keep and which would you allow to expire? Would you raise the eligibility age for Medicare? Agree to Social Security changes? Or advocate going over the fiscal cliff? Tell us in the comments.

Anna Bucciarelli December 04, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Paul ... Thanks for this ... needed a bit of levity after some of the tirades above >:)
paul surette December 04, 2012 at 12:20 PM
"One Adam-12....see Pimperton, the man ....over"
saul glick December 04, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Good one, Paul. Obamacare is going to make life very miserable, for millions of people. Jobs are going to be cut, and lost. Businesses are going to pass the costs on to the customer and their employees. People have no idea what Obamacare is going to do to them. People have no idea what they voted for.
Rick Frazier December 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
There was an election. Did things change? No they did not. What we got was the status quo....business as usual in Washington. As far as asking the "evil rich people to pay their share" I say get over it. Even if we taxed these top 2% at a rate of 50% or more, we would be in the same position.
Gene Pinkham December 04, 2012 at 02:44 PM
George W. Bush didn't go on vacation to Maine. He went home to Crawford TX where his residence served as the Western White House. The White House Press Corps hated him for this. They wanted Martha's Vinyard. Do you know what your expense account looks like in Crawford Texas?
Patricia December 04, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I suspect those on Medicare are going to be the first to find out what Obamacare has done. You can't take 700 Billion out of funding of Medicare providers and not have it affect patient care. Not possible. I know some like to spout dem talking points, but no one has explained to me how by cutting $700b in medicare reimbursements is not going to affect the elderly. By the time we're that age, we'll be lucky if we can get a doctor. I bet starting in 2013 you'll start seeing doctors no longer accepting medicare patients. That's just the start.
Bob December 04, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Patricia, you forgot to add the additional $400 Billion cut in the Presidents "fiscal cliff" proposal.
saul glick December 04, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Yes Patricia i wondered that also. Also this article is a good one also... http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/us-usa-tax-irs-idUSBRE8B21HA20121203
Bill Gilman (Editor) December 04, 2012 at 04:44 PM
A comment was removed from this stream due to violation of terms of service. Personal attacks are not allowed.
Patricia December 04, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Bridget the GOP is far from melting. It would be nice to see some compromise from both sides. I don't trust the Democrats to "cut in the future", they've lied before. Lets see some real proposals to shrink government.
Patricia December 04, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I think it's safe to say, after this last election the "press" has lost any credibility it had left. They hounded Bush for his time in Crawford although he was working. Funny the pass this president gets. I like Mr. Obama and his family, I hate the way he is held up as some savior - he's not. He's got just as many faults as any other president but the press protects him and they are finally starting to admit it.
david mokal December 04, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Many in my day never lived to collect their social. Plus the Government stole from it to pay off deficets.
Terry Bigler December 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM
One of the largest parts of this is "stealing from Peter to pay Paul" selected groups have garnered significant revenue from manipulations of the tax code. This has left other parts in deficit,,an enlarging population is of no aid either..Outsourcing of jobs removed a large portion of tax revenue while tax breaks and loop holes placed conveniently for the well connected shunted the money into private hands. Again the few profited at the expense of the many..While lots of people wail about the welfare state, if there were jobs here that paid more than welfare and offered medical care in the package ,there would be a shift toward higher employment..But , those who profit from outsourcing will fight any sort of reform to their last breath.The old adage remains that you can spend yourself out of a job but you cannot borrow yourself out of debt.
Anna Bucciarelli December 29, 2012 at 09:43 PM
And so, here we are again, only 3 days to the year end and no solution found by our esteemed leaders. But, then, what can we expect from that great bunch of free loaders in DC, who prescribe all manner of debts and taxes on the rest of us. I for one am thoroughly disenchanted with this entire bunch who seem to me to be totally engrossed in arguing about this and that and never getting around to the here and now for the good of we the people. I always assumed that term limits were not necessary since we have a vote to get them out, but it's just not working and I am now convinced that they have all been in power longer than necessary with little to show for it except this enormous fiscal problem which they do not care to face head-on. Insensitive and oblivious to the needs of all of us while they remain comfortable fat cats and look to a secure, taxpayer-supported retirement and healthcare. How ever did this happen? And where were we all as it was happening? The future looks grim ... yet, I am ever hopeful and still know that this is the greatest country and would not live anywhere else ... Happy, healthy New Year all ... keep the faith.
quasimodo December 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Well, saul, I'm one of the people who have no idea what OC is going to do to me, much less to other people. SO, would you kindly tells us what kind of increases in our fed taxes is going to occur? Don't be shy, tell us the facts,... BUT not your opinion. Thanx a lot.
saul glick December 30, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Well ,quasi. If you have a job? Your tax increase depends on the current so called "fiscal cliff" negotiations, doesn't it? And as far as OBcare, the internet talk, and business chanells are talking about business taxes, and providing healthcare to their full time employees. And downsizing fulltime workers, to part time so as to avoid paying for coverage. Maybe quasi, if you read what we have posted, instead of clowning around, we would take you seriously? It soulds like you are one of the millions who are going to get screwed? do you have a full time job?
quasimodo December 30, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Well, Saul, you did not answer my question, but I am not surprised. 1) The fiscal cliff has nothing to do with Obamacare, but more about the intransigence of the Republicans over the last 4 years. 2) Obamacare has nothing to do with employers switching their employees to part time in order to save money. It did not happened in Mass, and it wont happen federally, because knowledgeable business people understand, contrary to you and you uninformed ilk , that 2 part-time workers are NOT equal to a full time worker: obviously you do not run a business. Am I missing something there? If so, tell us what kind of NEW taxes will be coming when OC takes full effect. Again, FACTS, no opinions. 3) The employers now pay their employees health insurance BEFORE taxes, and it will continue to be so. 4) I have read (I'm sorry to have wasted my time) ALL of the postings, and NONE brings FACTS to the table, just unsubstantiated paranoia. If the US had a decent health policy for its citizens, like all other industrial countries, which understand that a healthy labor force is paramount to a successful and efficient economy, we wouldn't be arguing here. 5) Getting s*****d, it 's OK with me as long as I also get kissed. :~))
saul glick December 30, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Quasi. I know the fiscal cliff has nothing to do with OBcare. I didn't explain it further.. You are required in Mass to have healthcare, and if your employer doesn't pay a fair amount they are fined $295.00 for each employee. Something like that. OBcare has a fine of 3k for each full time employee. No fine for part timers. This is a link about mass health care http://www.massresources.org/health-reform.html as far as Businesses and OBcare, II have provided numerous links on the internet, about national chains, and OBcare, and companies with over 50 full timers. It is their opinions that they will be downsizing to part time help if this takes place in 2014 Now quasi, stand up straight, read on the internet what businesses are doing and going to do. It sounds like people like you are going to get screwed by your hero president. Do some research on the links i provided earlier. Just google Obamacare and full time employees.
Bill. S December 30, 2012 at 03:52 AM
The biggest issue with Mitt was that he could not spell out exactly what his big plans were right?? So its ok to vote for s#%t head even though we have no idea what Ocare means to us
Bill. S December 30, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Quasi, you are missing something, in fact you are completely lost. The company that I work for (currently just over 200 employees) pays $6000 per employee for health insurance. This is half of the cost, we pay the other $6000. They have already made it known that they will drop the health insurance benefit once Ocare is fully implemented. Seems as though they would rather pay the $2000 per employee "tax" than $6000 for insurance. Go figure .I probably wont qualify for Ocare (not that I want it) so I will have to buy my own, sure to cost more than $6000. Thanks O. Also we have 3-4 openings that pay $40000- $60000+ but we are NOT hiring due to the expected tax increases on the "higher earning folks" (business owners). Good job creation O. Two part timers DO equal one full timer when you dont have to pay benefits. They also have no problem paying overtime to current employees to make up for the existing openings. Surprised?? Dont be, its common sense. Its ok though because O doesnt get it either
AHM December 30, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Here we are with the fiscal cliff problem and the debt ceiling and our glorious leader helping out with this little gem. Hope we can post links. http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/us_politics/2012/12/obama_hikes_pay_select_officials
Who Me? December 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM
This should be the first type of "Entitlement" reform they tackle. All the hand wringing, and the world is going to end, and they grab a Billion of our money for themselves? Plenty of money folks....it's how they spend it that's the problem http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/us_politics/2012/12/obama_hikes_pay_select_officials
Who Me? December 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Let’s look at the Federal Budget in real terms. • U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 * Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000 * New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 * National debt: $14,271,000,000,000 * Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000 OK, looks impressive, however, let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget so we’ll extrapolate the numbers equally: * Annual family income: $21,700 * Money the family spent: $38,200 * New debt on the credit card: $16,500 * Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710 * Total budget cuts so far: $38.50 So the Democrats have offered up the equivalent of a $38.50 reduction to a $21,700 household income. All they have actually offered up is a reduction in line item spending. Line item spending is a budget expense that they want but will give up, money that’s not actually in the budget and therefore not a real reduction in Government spending.
saul glick December 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Bill S. This issue is more than real. The people like Quasi, don't have to worry about this for a year. The millions of workers who voted for this nitwit, refuse to look ahead and see what their employers are able to do to them. I read, and listen each day from corporate owners about their options. They all consistently have said take the full time employee, and make them part time, to avoid OBamacare. I listen and watch most of the day to Bloomberg, the most credible financial station in my opinion, but watch the other two biased chanells, Fox, and PMSNBC, but not much. And these faithful workers will soon find out, that their company will screw them for their bottom line. This issue will gain attention as the year moves on.
saul glick December 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Quasi: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/19/three-obamacare-tax-changes-start-in-12-days/ Here is something about OBcare and your taxes. Yes your medicare tax is going up starting Tuesday. There are a few other taxes on OBcare starting Tuesday also. And these are not related to the phoney fiscal cliff. And hunchback, do you remember what the supreme court ruled on OBAmacare? They ruled it a TAX. You can cheerlead all you want for this nitwit. He know nothing about OBAMacare himself. And don't drag Romney into this argument, he is not the president, Obama is. You, and millions of others, voted your jobs right out the window
Bob December 30, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Tyler, maybe you need a civics lesson. The people returned control of the government pocketbook to the Republican's (House of Rep.) to control President Obama's out of control spending. He has offered 3 budgets to the Senate (with Dem control) and gotten exactly ZERO votes of support.
Bob December 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Or tie our employees incomes (ie. public employees) to the average income of their employers? Average salary for public employees are almost twice that of private sector. Upside down! PLUS they get the kiss in the mail when they retire.
Who Me? December 30, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Good day to sit back, watch, and learn. Those who are more worried about when American Idol is coming back on, or have been focused on getting folks in Tewksbury to help pay their high water bill for their green lawns, are going to get whacked upside the head in 2013 and 2014 as Socialism comes to America and we all begin the slide down the same road as Europe. California actually very close to bankruptcy already. Remember folks, people get the Government they deserve. https://www.newsmaxstore.com/newsletters/radar/obamacare_video.cfm?PROMO_CODE=1103A-1
AHM December 30, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Even making that real easy to understand I am still not sure we can through what the big problem is here. Or maybe it's just me not liking debt.
Nick January 02, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Happy New Year, North Reading residents have their own fiscal cliff, take a look at your property tax bill. More tax increases and no plans to reduce the cost government. We have fortune 500 companies in town that pay the same tax rate as residents, it doesn't make any sense. How can the town continue to fund public employee's pension and retirement. Why are we funding their pension at a time when the private sector has more or less done away with them.

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