Hair-on-Fire Left Gets it Wrong Again: Budget Deal Helps Medicare, Disability Beneficiaries

The tremendously whiny pitchfork Left once again freaked the fuck out yesterday, jumping on floating media rumors that the budget deal in the works to set spending levels for two years and raise the debt limit into March 2017 would "cut" Medicare and Social Security Disability spending. My counsel to the hair-on-fire crowd was, in nicer words, chill the fuck out, the President's got this.

More specifically, I pointed out that every time President Obama has agreed to actual change in any of the social safety net programs, those changes invariably ended up helping the beneficiaries. Republicans lost an entire presidential campaign, for example, by arguing that Obama 'raided' Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act to the tune of $700 billion, when it turned out in reality that the cuts were in overpayments to private insurers and providers, and were primarily used to close the prescription drug donut hole for beneficiaries.

President Obama's record, of course, is of the largest expansion of the social safety net since the creation of Medicare itself, through a vast expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act.

But I guess the "Black dude is robbing your grandma" meme is irresistible, and not just for conservatives. The president's screeching Left critics have been yelling at the top of their lungs that Barack Obama is a "corporate Tom" on the verge of obliterating the social safety net much the same way the right wingers have been screeching that Obama is always just one step away from grabbing their guns.

And just like the right wing's parallel reality, I'm certain the fact that in this final spending-levels deal of his presidency, Barack Obama has again helped, not cut, Medicare and Disability beneficiaries will have no impact on the Left's flammable hair brigade.

On Medicare, the deal prevents a sharp spike in Part B premiums that was scheduled to take place under current law, while extending till 2025 a 2% provider payment cut that was instituted in the 2011 budget deal that began sequestration and extended in 2013 in the Ryan-Murray compromise till 2023. So, yeah... beneficiaries actually gained from this.

The story on disability benefits is much bigger. Under current law, disability payments are slated to be slashed by 20% next year as the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as the SSDI trust fund is depleted. Republicans had previously refused to use the oft-used fix of diverting some revenue from the larger Social Security trust fund (the retirement trust fund) without benefit cuts, but they caved.

Don't take it from me, take it from the hair-on-fire progressives' favorite internet aggregator, Huffpo.

The new agreement also would prevent a 20 percent cut in benefits next year to the 11 million Americans enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The cut would be avoided by diverting some of the incoming payroll tax money from Social Security’s much bigger retirement insurance program for six years, something Republicans previously said they wouldn’t do without cuts to benefits.

All this, in addition to an $80 billion in sequestration relief, a number greater than the $63 billion in sequestration relief in the 2013 Ryan-Murray bill, and that was before the Republicans were controlling both houses of Congress.

You know, just a little perspective (and the draft bill).

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