KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hopes Dim For Debt-Limit Deal

As President Barack Obama issued dire warnings about what will happen if lawmakers fail to raise the debt ceiling, one GOP leader advanced a "last-choice option" to avoid the consequences of failing to come to terms on a deficit-reduction package. Meanwhile, other news outlets offer advice on how to break the impasse.

The New York Times: Hopes Dwindling For Compromise In Budget Talks
From the White House and Congress to financial centers, pessimism spread on Tuesday about the prospects of a debt-limit deal between President Obama and Republicans, prompting the Senate Republican leader to propose a "last-choice option" that piqued the administration's interest but angered conservatives in his own party. … Administration officials welcomed the McConnell initiative for at least signaling that both parties' leaders were committed to averting a potential economy-shaking government default; many Democrats in Congress saw it as a way to avoid the sort of deep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Republicans have sought as the price of their votes for a debt-limit increase (Calmes, 7/12).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Gives Social Security Warning In Debt Debate
The proposal offered by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would essentially flip the debt ceiling process on its head. Rather than vote on measures to raise the debt limit, members of Congress would vote on bills that would forbid increases. Obama's presumably certain veto of the measures would allow the ceiling to rise. Politically, Republicans could claim to be voting to hold the line against a higher limit, safe in the knowledge that there would be no catastrophic default on federal borrowings. But the plan would essentially abandon the GOP quest to use the debt ceiling as a mechanism to force deep cuts in the federal budget, and was widely criticized by conservatives (Parsons and Mascaro, 7/13).

The Fiscal Times: 5 Ways Obama Can Break the Debt Ceiling Impasse
Despite all the work of debt commissions, congressional Gangs of Six, a vice presidential taskforce, and secret talks, we're no closer to a major deficit reduction plan, which is essential before Congress can raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and avoid financial havoc. ... Here are five steps the president can take to break the impasse, avert a default on the debt, and demonstrate who's really in charge: Take the spending cuts and run. The Republicans absolutely refuse to go along with anything other than $2 trillion or so in spending cuts over the coming decade – largely reductions in government services, farm subsidies and health care costs already identified by a small bipartisan group of House and Senate members chaired by Vice President Joseph Biden (Pianin, 7/11).

Related from KHN's Capsules blog: List Of Potential Medicare And Medicaid Cuts Stirs Washington (Carey, 7/12).

ABC: Obama: Debt Ceiling Impasse Threatens Social Security, Veterans, Medicaid Checks
The White House warned today that millions of Americans might not receive federal benefits checks if both sides can't reach a deal to raise the nation's debt limit by Aug. 2. "We cannot guarantee – if there were a default – that any specific bill would be paid," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, seeking to leverage public pressure on negotiators from both sides who are headed back to the White House this afternoon. President Obama also raised the specter of short-changing recipients of federal benefits, telling CBS's Scott Pelly in an interview that "there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it" (Dwyer, 7/12). 

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