The 'Fiscal Cliff': What Deal Would You Cut?

Massachusetts Democrats in Congress want to avoid cuts in benefits as part of any deal, but proposals such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare are still on the table. What would you do?


As Congress negotiates a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, Massachusetts' congressional representatives have voiced their opposition to any cuts in benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Boston Globe reports.

However, there are proposals still on the table that would change those benefit programs, including linking Social Security benefits to a more conservative inflation index that would slightly reduce annual increases, or raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

The Globe reported that while the Bay State's legislators were united against changes to Social Security, there's some wiggle room on Medicare. Rep. Ed Markey opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age; Rep. Michael Capuano would consider raising the age in trade for higher tax rates on the wealthy; and Rep. Richard Neal would consider raising the Medicare age by one month a year.

The so-called fiscal cliff is partly a result of a deal struck in August 2011 to raise the debt ceiling. On Jan. 1, the George W. Bush tax cuts would expire, as would extended unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut. There would also be $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, an automatic reduction if a joint Congressional committee couldn't come up with a list of cuts to present to lawmakers for approval.

Without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, a White House report says that a Massachusetts family of four, earning $86,000, would see its income taxes rise by $2,200 a year, the Globe reports.

Some pundits have advocated going over the fiscal cliff—not striking a deal, allowing the tax cuts to expire and spending cuts to go into effect on Jan. 1—as a way to strengthen their side in tax negotations or to rationalize the tax code.

The Tax Policy Center has created a calculator that shows the effect the fiscal cliff would have on different households, and allows comparisons with alternative tax policies presented by both Democrats and Republicans.

And the WBUR program On Point covered in a program this week on tax breaks the painful costs of almost any move, including doing away with deductions  for mortgage, charitable contributions and healthcare insurance.

What deal would you strike to avoid the fiscal cliff? Which tax cuts would you keep and which would you allow to expire? Would you raise the eligibility age for Medicare? Agree to Social Security changes? Do away with the mortgage or charitable contributions deductions? Take a totally different approach? Or advocate going over the fiscal cliff? Tell us in the comments section below.

Michael Fleming December 13, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Sorry, it was spelled "Kadlec".
Charlie Kadlec December 13, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Michael -- no, it is a different Charles Kadlec (the name is not very unusual back in the "old country", the Czech Republic). He has published many articles and books, used to work with Arthur Laffer, I am not sure what he is doing now. We generally agree on important things so I do not mind him borrowing my name; Charlie Kadlec Acton
Michael Fleming December 13, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Dang it The writing style was a bit different than yours here on Patch, but you both share a precision that I thought suggested a common authorship. Oh well.
Iron Mike December 13, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Michael, be assured that OUR Charlie is wicked smart, extremely funny, and a fine American Patriot!
Michael Fleming December 13, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I'm gonna agree with that Mike!


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