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GOP makes new offer on taxes, Medicare cuts

WASHINGTON — With a Thanksgiving deadline fast approaching, the GOP members of a deficit-reduction supercommittee are pressing a plan to cut the deficit by about $1.5 trillion in the coming decade, showing flexibility on tax revenue increases for the first time while pressing curbs on Medicare spending and a less generous cost-of-living increase for Social Security beneficiaries.

The plan floated by Republicans would place sharp limits on the total amount of tax deductions and credits that a person could claim, in exchange for significantly lower income tax rates. At the same time, Republicans are willing to accept a net increase in individual income tax revenues of about $300 billion over the coming decade.

The proposal also would cut spending by about $700 billion, mixing a less generous cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries with further cuts to agency operating budgets and curbs to the growth of Medicare and the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled. Other revenues would come from proposals such as auctioning broadcast spectrum, raising Medicare premiums and increasing aviation security fees.

Republicans also support raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 for future retirees, but GOP and Democratic aides offered different accounts of whether the idea was officially part of the proposal. Democrats said it was in the plan; Republicans say it was part of the discussion but not an official GOP position.

The supercommittee has been super-secret in its deliberations and each of the aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

The GOP offer, discussed by a bipartisan subgroup of supercommittee lawmakers Monday evening, contrasts with a Democratic plan introduced last month that proposed revenue increases of about $1.3 trillion that would also be netted after a rewrite of the loophole-cluttered federal tax code. Both proposals are similar in concept to ideas discussed last summer in negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Barack Obama.

Democrats dismissed the GOP plan as inadequate.

The panel is charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over a decade; failure to accomplish the goal would trigger automatic spending cuts across a wide range of federal programs.

GOP makes new offer on taxes, Medicare cuts 11/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 11:11pm]
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