By greater than a two-to-one margin, voters overwhelmingly oppose increasing the Medicare retirement age from 65 to 67, according to a new Washington Post poll. The poll found 67 percent of registered voters oppose raising the Medicare retirement age while just 30 percent of voters support the idea. On the other hand, 60 percent of voters support raising taxes on the rich.
Raising the Medicare retirement age is not only a deeply unpopular way to reduce the deficit, it is also terrible and ineffective policy. The move would only save the federal government a modest amount of money, while shifting even greater costs onto millions of Americans. It would not only cost individuals near retirement more, but it would increase the premiums for everyone on Medicare and people using the new Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Despite the fact that it is simply idiotic policy, the idea of increasing the Medicare retirement age from 65 to 67 is being seriously entertained by a disturbing number of prominent figures in Washington. Many top Republicans and Democrats have advocated for the idea. President Obama even offered it to Speaker John Boehner in 2011 as part of a possible debt deal.
Hopefully the combination of the idea being both unpopular and unsound will prevent it from being part of any fiscal cliff deal, but the fact that the idea is still being discussed is a perfect symbol of what is wrong with the current dialog in Washington. Politicians promoting bad and unpopular ideas are treated as serious thinkers instead of psychopaths, because advocating for needlessly hurting poor people is somehow seen as a badge of courage.