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Krugman: Budget proposals ‘only considered serious if you inflict pain on vulnerable people’

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Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on Tuesday said it was “unfair” to accuse President Barack Obama of not putting forth serious reforms to Medicare amid the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Krugman noted on PBS’ Newshour that Obamacare seeks to reduce Medicare costs without affecting eligibility or benefits. The law is estimated to have provided $716 billion in savings by reducing payments to hospitals and insurers.

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“He’s actually done more to bring down the cost curve for Medicare than anyone has ever done before,” Krugman remarked. “But in Washington, that is considered not serious because he’s not actually taking benefits away from people who need them. So, it’s a really weird thing. It’s only considered serious if you inflict pain on vulnerable people.”

Republicans have proposed reducing the cost of Medicare by raising the eligibility age. Currently, Americans can enroll in Medicare when they turn 65. Some Republicans have proposed increasing the eligibility age to 67 or 68.

But Krugman said that proposal wouldn’t bring much savings, because most seniors between 65-68 years old are relatively healthy.

“It makes almost no difference to the financial outlook,” he said. “But it’s cruel.”

Krugman said it was wrong to focus on Medicare and Social Security to reduce the federal deficit.

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“All of these things that have occupied all our attention are not actually where the big bucks are. The big bucks are in making high-income people pay higher taxes and in actually addressing health care costs, which the Affordable Care Act does and none of the things that we’re talking about now will actually do.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by PBS, below:

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‘Quiet!’ Trump erupts as reporters question him about witness intimidation — and demands ‘freedom of speech’

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President Donald Trump on Friday got into a testy exchange with reporters after they asked him whether his angry tweet at former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch constituted witness intimidation.

While talking with reporters, Trump falsely claimed that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee had been prevented from asking questions during Yovanovitch's testimony.

"We have the right to speak!" the president fumed. "I have freedom of speech just as other people do but they have taken away the Republicans rights. I watched today as certain very talented people, who wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions, Republicans. They weren’t allowed to ask questions."

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GOP lawmaker ducks question after Yovanovitch asks why it was necessary to smear her reputation

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Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on Friday got more than he bargained for while questioning former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Toward the end of his questioning, Wenstrup argued that President Donald Trump has the power to hire and dismiss ambassadors as he sees fit in order to enact his preferred foreign policy.

"The president has the right to make their own foreign policy and to make his own decisions, and with that I yield back," he said.

Yovanovitch, however, was unwilling to let it end there and she asked to supplement her testimony.

"While I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation?" she asked Wenstrup.

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‘Everyone he touches gets tainted’: CNN panel astonished by number of criminally convicted Trump allies

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A CNN panel on Friday stood in awe at the number of President Donald Trump's allies who have been convicted of crimes ever since his election in 2016.

During a panel discussion about Trump ally Roger Stone's conviction on seven criminal counts that included witness intimidation, perjury, and obstruction of justice, CNN host Anderson Cooper said it was astonishing how many of the people who helped the president get elected have wound up in jail.

"In your own life, how many people are you close to in your orbit who have been convicted of crimes?" Cooper asked and then listed off former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

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