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The Fiscal Cliff: What Deal Would You Cut?

Massachusetts Democrats in Congress want to avoid cuts in benefits as part of any deal, but proposals such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare are still on the table. What would you do?

As Congress negotiates a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, Massachusetts' congressional representatives have voiced their opposition to any cuts in benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Boston Globe reports.

However, there are proposals still on the table that would change those benefit programs, including linking Social Security benefits to a more conservative inflation index that would slightly reduce annual increases, or raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

The Globe reported that while the Bay State's legislators were united against changes to Social Security, there's some wiggle room on Medicare. Rep. Ed Markey, who represents Framingham, opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age; Rep. Michael Capuano would consider raising the age in trade for higher tax rates on the wealthy; and Rep. Richard Neal would consider raising the eligibility of Medicare by one month a year.

The fiscal cliff is partly a result of a deal struck in August 2011 to raise the debt ceiling. On Jan. 1, the Bush tax cuts would expire, as would extended unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut. There would also be $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, an automatic reduction if a joint Congressional committee couldn't come up with a list of cuts to present to lawmakers for approval.

Without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, a White House report says that a Massachusetts family of four, earning $86,000, would see its income taxes rise by $2,200, the Globe reports.

Some pundits have advocated going over the fiscal cliff—not striking a deal, allowing the tax cuts to expire and spending cuts to go into effect on Jan. 1—as a way to strengthen their side in tax negotations or to rationalize the tax code.

The Tax Policy Center has created a calculator that shows the effect the fiscal cliff would have on different households, and allows comparisons with alternative tax policies presented by both Democrats and Republicans.

What deal would you strike to avoid the fiscal cliff? Which tax cuts would you keep and which would you allow to expire? Would you raise the eligibility age for Medicare? Agree to Social Security changes? Or advocate going over the fiscal cliff? Tell us in the comments.

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