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House Republicans Propose Raising Medicare Eligibility Age to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

House Republicans sent a counterproposal to the White House today that would avoid the "fiscal cliff," proposing a $4.6 trillion deficit reduction that would increase the eligibility age for Medicare benefits, among other provisions.

According to a USA Today report, the proposal is based on an outline by former Clinton administration chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired President Obama's debt commission.

The plan did not specify a new eligibility age for the Medicare program, though Ms. Bowles has publicly supported raising the age to 67. The age currently stands at 65.

Democrats maintain that without raising tax rates on the wealthiest of Americans — a proposal that many Republicans staunchly oppose — the country cannot avert the "fiscal cliff" that will occur when George W. Bush-era tax rates expire. The expiration will trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.

The House Republicans' proposal calls for $900 billion in healthcare and other mandatory spending cuts, in addition to other cuts. The GOP plan aims to achieve enough in deficit reduction to turn off the $1.2 trillion automatic spending cuts at the end o the year to resolve that aspect of the "fiscal cliff," according to the report.

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