Overview of the GOP’s initial proposal to avert the fiscal cliff

Republican lawmakers are insisting on serious cuts to entitlement programs, including raising the Medicare eligibility age and slowing Social Security’s cost-of-living (COLA) increases, in order to reach a deal with the White House to avert the fiscal cliff.

Here are the key positions that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have outlined in media appearances over the weekend:

On Medicare:

  • Impose higher Medicare premiums for higher-income retirees.
  • Raise the Medicare eligibility age up from the current age of 65.

On Social Security:

  • Cut back on cost-of-living increases (known as COLA) for seniors who collect Social Security.

On tax revenues:

  • Boost the amount of taxes collected by capping deductions and eliminating certain tax credits, which are known as “tax expenditures”.
  • Boehner said Republicans are open to the idea of capping deductions at a percentage of income or getting rid of certain deductions for the wealthy. Boehner said his plan would raise about $800 billion in additional revenues.
  • Both McConnell and Boehner have publicly stated that Republicans will oppose any increases to tax rates, including allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the top 2% of income earners.

On the debt ceiling:

  • Boehner said that Republicans would insist that any increase to the debt limit be offset by spending cuts that are greater than the increase in debt limit. This is essentially the same position that Boehner took during the debt ceiling fracas in August 2011 that resulted in the unprecedented downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.


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