Sen. Dick Durbin: Medicare, Medicaid Fair Game in Talks to Avoid Fiscal Cliff
Sen. Dick Durbin said today that his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate should be willing to address entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid in deficit reduction negotiations.
"From my side of the table, bring entitlement reform into the conversation," Durbin said on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "Social Security - set aside … doesn't add to the deficit. But when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, protect the integrity of the program, but give it solvency for more and more years."
But Durbin ruled out raising the age of Medicare eligibility as a potential reform.
"We've got to make sure that there is seamless coverage of affordable health insurance for every American," Durbin said. "My concern about raising that Medicare retirement age is there will be gaps in coverage or coverage that's way too expensive for seniors to purchase."
Durbin added that Republicans should do more than open the door to eliminating deductions, which he said would not raise enough revenue to bring down the deficit.
"Let the [highest tax] rates go up to 39 [percent]. Let us also take a look at the deductions. Let's make sure that revenue is an integral part of deficit reduction," Durbin said.
Also speaking on "This Week," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said that putting revenue on the table by reducing deductions for high income Americans is "fair" only if Democrats will also agree to address entitlement reform.
He added that in order to reach a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff he would defy a no-tax increase pledge that he and many Republicans made to lobbyist Grover Norquist and his group Americans for Tax Reform, a promise he first made several months ago.
"The only pledges we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece," Graham said today. "Capping deductions will help generate revenue. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation so I agree with Grover we shouldn't raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cut deductions and buy down debt."
"I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country only if Democrats will do entitlement reform," he added.