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Medicare Reform May Be Shelved

WASHINGTON ( - South Florida's seniors may be able to breathe a slight sigh of relief Thursday after senior Republicans in Washington said a controversial plan to overhaul Medicare and Social Security is likely off the table, according to the Washington Post.

Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, have released plans to cut large amounts of funding from Medicaid, privatize Medicare and shift the costs to seniors, and revamp Social Security.

Democrats, who enacted all three programs, have vowed to defend them at all costs.

According to the post, Republicans know they have to look elsewhere to find budget cuts after "President Obama excoriated us," over the plan to privatize Medicare.

Democrats have targeted the tax code as a way to help stem the tide of deficits. Specifically, they want to end tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The latter is supported by a majority of Americans in just about every opinion poll.

Republicans balk at any tax changes that could include hikes on the rich or ending subsidies for big oil, though there are cracks beginning to show in the protection of oil subsidies.

GOP leaders, according to the Post, want to end payments to wealth farmers, limit medical liability in malpractice cases, and other issues.

The battle is surrounding a fight over raising the United States' debt ceiling and the 2012 federal budget.

The debt ceiling will be met in about two weeks and while Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said he could juggle the books to avoid a default until August 2, at that point, it may be too late.

If the United States defaults on its obligations, it will cause mass chaos on both Wall Street and markets around the world and run the risk of plunging the country into a deep recession that could be worse than the Great Recession the country is still dealing with.

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