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Clinton, Lott Timetables Differ on Medicare Payments for Rich

From Associated Press

In cross-country jockeying on the budget, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott predicted Sunday that President Clinton would go along with higher Medicare premiums for the rich, but the president said such a proposal could explode the balanced-budget deal.

“We have got a great budget agreement,” Clinton said as he ended a summit of world leaders in Denver. “We should not alter it unless there is agreement among all the parties. . . . because otherwise we risk undermining the prize.”

Clinton added that he is willing to consider the idea of raising Medicare co-payments for wealthier older Americans but that the issue should be set aside during the balanced-budget debate.

As Republicans tried to build momentum for their major spending and tax proposals coming before Congress this week, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) expressed confidence on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” that the president would sign the tax portion of the balanced-budget package. He said House Republicans will not give in on their plan to deny a child tax credit to families who don’t earn enough to pay income tax.

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Clinton reiterated his position that “all working people” should be eligible for the credit but said this was a disagreement he expected to be worked out.

He urged Congress to finish work on a balanced-budget plan that includes a tax cut to help working families, but added, “we cannot afford time-bomb tax cuts that will explode in future years and undo our hard-won progress.”

On Medicare premiums, Lott (R-Miss.) said on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” that he talked to Clinton last week about a Senate proposal to make wealthy older Americans pay more for visits to the doctor. “To me, he has indicated that he wouldn’t object if we included it in our package,” Lott said.

Clinton countered that while he is not opposed to the idea philosophically, he sees it as a long-term issue rather than something to be included in the budget deal.

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Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin said on “Face the Nation” that means testing for Medicare recipients should be part of future talks on keeping the program viable.


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