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GOP Regains High Ground With Cliff Counteroffer


The Republicans regained some of the high ground on Monday by embracing the framework of the president's own fiscal reform guru, Democrat Erskine Bowles.

Why Is 67 the New 65?

The framework also shows a GOP willing to confront its perceived base-older, wealthy voters. In order to tamp down on Medicare's growing expenses, their proposal would make 67 the new 65, bumping up the eligibility to a level that Obama has privately endorsed but that Democratic luminaries such as Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin have ruled out. The Congressional Budget Office projected last January that the higher eligibility age would save 5 percent on Medicare over the long-term, but that access to Medicare would be delayed for older Americans who would end up paying more for health treatment.

By proposing tax reform, Boehner left open the possibility that all of the Bush-era tax rates could be extended for a full year. The speaker previously pushed for a continuation of the lower rates in order to have the time to work through an overhaul of the tax code at a committee level. Both Republicans and Democrats have stated that meaningful reform cannot be achieved in a matter of weeks, so what Boehner has subtly done is suggest the removal of Obama's biggest cudgel in tax negotiations-the automatic end of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates at the start of next year.

The House Republican letter specifically did not mention the debt ceiling increase. As part of his offer, Obama proposed that Congress forfeit its control of the government's borrowing capacity. Boehner dismissed that idea as ludicrous, but by refusing to provide any counter to the president's proposal hinted at his hope that additional concessions can be extracted from Democrats in return for raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling to avoid default.

Editor's Note: This article by Eric Pianin and Josh Boak originally appeared on The Fiscal Times.

For more from The Fiscal Times:

Why the GOP Won't Admit Supply-Side Econ Has Failed

Why Windows 8 Can't Save the PC Industry

Barack Obama: The Democrats' Richard Nixon?

Follow The Fiscal Times on Twitter @TheFiscalTimes.
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