Martin Bashir | December 06, 2012
>>> time, as we know, is of the essence as we inch ever closer to the fiscal cliff. so why is the house adjourned until next tuesday? it turns sought they have some other important business to attend to. for example, in about an hour members of the north carolina and georgia delegations will attend their annual red necks and turtlenecks party where they will dress up in their tackiest sweaters and drink pink martinis at a well-known washington watering hole. they're clearly neither shaken nor stirred by the fiscal cliff. joining us is congresswoman jan chakowski from illinois.
>> good afternoon.
>> can i thank you for remaining at work given the urgency of the situation. speaker boehner says raising tax rates on the top 2% is unacceptable without serious entitlement reform. and a few hours ago nancy pelosi wondered what exactly he had in mind. take a listen.
>> what are we talking about here? what are we talking about when we say restructure entitlements? what does restructure mean? destroy, wither on the vine, voucherize, or does it mean let's work together to make these stronger?
>> now, given that speaker boehner doesn't tell us anything, are you able to give us any specific examples of what democrats may be prepared to concede in terms of earned entitlements?
>> well, i am not willing to say that we cut benefits at all because we can, in fact, make medicare more cost-effective and bring down health care costs without cutting benefits. we did that, and the republicans hit us over the head with it. you remember that number $716 billion and the accusation that democrats were taking it away from seniors and from medicare .
>> i remember that lie very, very well.
>> and then the president wins the election and now they say and you must cut medicare . well, you know, first of all, that's a very, very unpopular position. and second of all, that's exactly what we did, that's what obama care does. make the program much more efficient.
>> but what about this idea of raising the entitlement age so the age at which you qualify for some of these? i mean, the president in his original grand bargain discussions with speaker boehner allegedly floated the idea of raising the age to 67. is that something you would consider?
>> it is based on the premise that we're all living longer, but you know what, martin? if you're a lower income person, if you're in the lower half of income, you are not living longer, and if you're a poor woman, you have actually lost ground when it comes to longevity. and so it's perfectly fine for many of these ceos, each of whom has an average of $9 million in their retirement fund, to say that we ought to raise the retirement age because we're all living longer. that really isn't happening, and i have people in my office literally crawling in almost almost every week saying i hope i can make it until i'm 65 years old. i need to have this procedure or that procedure. you know, where are they going to get the health care ? the reason we have medicare is that insurance companies are not really interested in giving old people, sick people insurance. that's why it was formed in the first place. and, martin, who thinks that our country is actually poorer today than 50 years ago when medicare and medicaid came in? or poorer today than 70 years ago when social security came in? can't the richest country in the world say to our senior citizens , people with disabilities , yes, you're entitled to your medicare . you pay it in and you continue to pay. i think that's an untold story , too. medicare is not free.
>> seniors are paying about 20% of their income on health care right now.
>> absolutely. it is an earned entitlement. i wish we had more time but thank you.
>> thank you.