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This article was written by Elizabeth B. Letchworth, a retired, elected United States Senate Secretary for the Majority and Minority. Currently she is a senior legislative adviser for Covington & Burling, LLC and is the founder of GradeGov.com
The Obama administration is considering trying to use the Medicare Trust Fund monies to pay the billions of dollars needed to start up, run and implement Obama care. They have heard of the various defunding cries coming from Congress and fear some of them may just be successful. If Congress is successful in defunding the programs and they attach it to an especially attractive legislative vehicle, this could really tie the hands of the President. To get himself out from under this possible hostage situation, he wants his team to find a way to pay the bills associated with Obama care separate from the Congressional appropriations process.
This is where the Medicare trust fund comes in. You see the Medicare trust fund is a pot of money funded mostly by the dollars collected when they are deducted from our paychecks. In other words, the Medicare trust fund could become the Obama health care cash cow.
Congress would be hard pressed to cut Medicare without facing the wrath of Democrats, the media and many senior organizations. Can’t you picture the video they could construct? It would surely contain a sweet looking grandma shopping in the dog food isle for her groceries, not Rover’s, because Republicans in Congress are cutting the Medicare Trust fund!
Medicare also has the Congressional designation of an entitlement program. This classification makes it harder for Congress to alter the program or fiddle with the money the trust fund collects. In both the Senate and the House any attempt to change entitlement programs are subject to a super majority, 60 vote threshold. Congress created these rules to make it extra hard to alter these entitlements since entitlements are considered promises from the Federal Government. Stay tuned to see if the President’s legal team is able to concoct a scheme to begin robbing from the Medicare Trust fund.
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