Behind the "Sequester": Obama Intends To Cut Entitlements
February 26, 2013 • 11:30AM

Within the "pin the blame" game which is gaining hegemony as the likelihood of a bi-partisan deal pre-empting the implementation of the sequester cuts diminishes, is a subtle push by the Obama White House to open the door to his true desire: the cutting of entitlements, starting with Medicare.

As with the entire sequester, which Bob Woodward exposed was first floated by Obama, who then tried to foist responsibility on the Republicans, he is now trying to play both sides on the Medicare issue as well. In his late-December budget negotiations with John Boehner, Obama proposed $400 billion in health care cuts, focussed primarily on cuts in Medicare spending. Today, in written answers to questions submitted by Sen Orrin Hatch (following his testimony at confirmation hearings before the Senate Finance Committee), former White House chief of staff and current nominee for Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew stated that, "the administration does not support raising the eligibility age for Medicare." As ironically noted in coverage by The Hill this morning, this was a proposal which "Obama had supported in 2011 deficit talks with House Speaker John Boehner."

The White House is dancing around entitlement cuts which, in reality, have already been made. Today's New York Times notes that the White House is losing Democratic support for its proposed cuts in Medicare, because reports from the Congressional Budget Office are showing that projected Medicare spending (by 2020) has already dropped by $400 billion, from $6.5 trillion dollars, as estimated in an August 2010 CBO report, to $6.1 trillion in their latest report. This amount, says the Times, is already more than the $303 billion cuts proposed by the hated Simpson-Bowles "Catfood Commission" of 2010.

The article calls the causes of the reduced use of medical care by seniors since 2009-2010 "unknown", but makes clear enough that it's Obamacare's various denial-of-service provisions, readmission penalties to hospitals, physicians refusing to take Medicare patients, and poorer people less able to afford copays.