"I have never been for a tax cut for the rich or anyone else," said Sen. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming. He said he would seek to reduce Medicare premium subsidies for the most affluent 15% of senior citizens--about 5 million people.
The GOP Medicare plan includes an "affluence test" that would raise the premiums threefold for the wealthiest 3%--about 1 million people. The premiums now are subsidized for all elderly.
Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York said the Democrats' argument that the Republicans were cutting Medicare to pay for tax cuts "resonates, and senior citizens are concerned. . . . It's difficult to make the case that we are doing this to strengthen Medicare."
Meanwhile, a weekend USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll showed public support for Republican Medicare proposals is eroding, with a thin majority opposing GOP proposals to revamp the program.
The poll found that 41% believe Republican policies would move the country in the right direction, down from 53% in March. It found that 51% opposed GOP efforts to change Medicare.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch Of Utah predicted the tax cut would never happen, and D'Amato said he would have preferred to repair Medicare and Medicaid without "this business of tax cuts."