WASHINGTON Feb 11 President Barack Obama has
ruled out raising the age that Americans become eligible for
Medicare, the government health insurance program for seniors,
as a way to reduce the government's deficit, a White House
spokesman said on Monday.
Republicans in Congress, who have focused on cutting
spending, have said they want to see the eligibility age raised
to 67 from the current age of 65, but many Democrats have
opposed the idea vehemently.
"The president's made clear that we don't believe that
that's the right policy to take," White House spokesman Jay
Carney told reporters.
The White House and Congress have been grappling with how to
avoid a March 1 deadline when $85 billion in automatic
across-the-board spending cuts are o take effect.
Obama has urged Congress to postpone the cuts by raising
revenue from ending long-standing tax breaks for oil companies,
private equity firms and corporate jet owners - steps that would
help Congress "buy time" to come up with a budget.
He has said he is willing to include some reforms on Social
Security, the government pension program, as part of a "big
deal" with Republicans to reduce the deficit.
Those reforms would include slowing the rate of annual
payment increases for Social Security by changing the
calculation of inflation used to set the new payment.
But any change needs to be part of a larger plan that splits
deficit reduction between spending cuts and revenue increases,
"How do you explain to a senior that we're doing this,
asking you to sacrifice, but we're not saying that corporate jet
owners should lose their special tax incentive?" Carney said.