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National Journal - Frank Says He's Willing to Talk Entitlement Reform

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By Rebecca Kaplan

In an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said that some Democrats were willing to negotiate with Republicans on reforming entitlements, particularly changing the way Medicare and Medicaid are paid to all Americans regardless of their desire.

"We have public policies that force medical care on people who don't want it. They are old, sick, in pain, and living a life that is not what it should be. I am in favor of making it easier for them to decide they don't want more care. It saves tens of billions of dollars and, I think, accommodates people's wishes," he said.

He also said he was in favor of increasing the co-pay on Medicare payments with income; taxing Social Security benefits for people who reach a certain level of income and recycling that money back into the Social Security system; and making hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to the defense budget.

But he said the makeup of the Republican Party would likely prevent a compromise on issues of spending and deficits.

"The House of Representatives today consists of two groups: people who are tea party followers of [Minnesota Rep.] Michele Bachmann and people who afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann's following. And they are, I'm afraid, not willing to do the compromise," Frank said. Although he credited House Speaker John Boehner for not being a "demagogue" on the debt-ceiling increase, he concluded, "I think, if you look at the Republican membership in the house today, I am not optimistic they are prepared to do the compromise I think is necessary."

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