Leading Senate Democrat Says Benefit Cuts To Medicare And Medicaid Are Off The Table In Debt Ceiling Negotiations

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Update 2: Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer said Democrats could agree to changes in the “delivery side” of Medicare.

“We believe that Medicare provides very good health care but it does it inefficiently,” he reportedly said last week. “The way to bring savings out of Medicare while at the same time preserving the benefits is to make it more efficient in terms of the delivery system.”

Update: Clarifies Schumer said “benefit cuts” to the programs are off the table.

Original: In an appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Senate Democrats would not support “benefit cuts” to Medicare or Medicaid as part of a deal to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. 

On Tuesday Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced a bill that would cut $600 billion from Medicare, a proposal many thought would form part of a final debt ceiling deal.

Schumer’s statement came as a blow to President Barack Obama, who called for an examination of entitlement spending to be combined with tax increases, in a press conference Wednesday.

The move also costs Democrats the high-ground of asserting that everything is “on the table” in deficit reduction talks — they have relentlessly criticised Republicans for refusing to negotiate on a deal including tax increases.

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