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President Obama Takes Heat from IL Supporters on Debt-Ceiling Compromise Talk

July 18, 2011

CHICAGO - President Obama says compromise and shared sacrifice are key to reaching agreement on the debt ceiling. And if the Republicans would compromise on tax loopholes, he's willing to consider means tests for Medicare, perhaps raising premiums for those with higher incomes.

Heather Heppner with AARP Illinois says that's not a compromise the AARP could support.

"Medicare is not a welfare program. Seniors pay into Medicare throughout their working lives. Applying a means test to Medicare would essentially erode the foundation of that program."

Heppner says the small number of seniors who are wealthy contributed more throughout their working lives and they pay higher taxes in their retirement to support those programs.

Heppner adds the deficit is not the fault of seniors.

"Particularly with regard to Social Security, Social Security has not contributed a dime to our nation's debt."

In the meantime, a group of Obama supporters and volunteers has delivered a petition that they say contains 200,000 signatures. It threatens to withdraw support if he fails to protect entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Chicagoan Mary Ellen Croteau, who signed the petition, says it seems like President Obama has been doing too much compromising.

"He should be making a stand for the people who elected him and expected him to take those stands, and he's not doing it."

Croteau, who is just a few years away from retirement, says she could live with a means test for Medicare but nothing more, "If that indeed is his only stand on Medicare. But his history has shown me that he keeps stepping backward and giving them what they want."

Republicans say the President wants to tax the rich and "create a roadblock for jobs." The President said in his Saturday address that he is willing to compromise even if it's unpopular, but added that he does not think hedge fund managers should be paying lower taxes than their secretaries.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL