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|On August 2, 2011, wielding the pretext of a phony debt-ceiling crisis, the U.S. Congress approved legislation aimed at raising the debt limit to cover debts until January 1, 2013 -- in exchange for $900 billion in cuts to domestic programs during this first phase. The programs cut ranged from schools, to mass transit, to welfare and food safety. During this first phase, the cuts amounted to $900 billion.
The legislation also set up a bipartisan 'Super Committee' of 12 members of Congress (six Democrats and six Republicans) with special powers to make another $1.5 trillion in cuts. Targeted in this second phase were Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- the so-called 'three sacred cows.' Medicare eligibility was projected to rise from ages 65 to 67, and changes were announced in the formula for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.