KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House, Business Leaders Plan Public Appeals On Fiscal Negotiations

The White House and several major stakeholders are planning campaigns to gain support for their positions in the upcoming debate on federal taxes and spending. Ahead of Tuesday's congressional lame-duck session, news outlets reported on how various players are approaching the negotiations.

The Wall Street Journal: White House Plans Public Appeal on Deficit
The White House plans an aggressive public campaign to build support for its approach to reduce the deficit through tax increases and spending cuts, a sharp contrast to its private talks with Republicans that faltered last year. President Barack Obama will meet with labor leaders Tuesday and a number of chief executives on Wednesday, in an effort to solidify backing for his proposals. ... Several Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), have said in recent days higher tax revenue could be part of a deal. ... Republicans also say significant changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid would have to be part of any package (Paletta and Hook, 11/11). 

The New York Times: Business Chiefs Step Gingerly Into A Thorny Budget Fight
As Democratic and Republican leaders stake out their positions in the coming fiscal showdown in Washington, corporate executives are starting a political campaign of their own. The chief executives taking part in two separate advertising blitzes that are set to begin on Monday and Tuesday are walking a delicate balance. They plan to press Congress to act quickly, even as they publicly steer clear of the political firefight surrounding the details of any far-reaching deal to cut the federal budget deficit. Behind the scenes, however, the effort by business leaders could play a crucial role in shaping decisions on tax policy (Schwartz and Kocieniewski, 11/11).

The Hill: Bases Fret As Leaders Talk Of Deals On 'Fiscal Cliff,' Immigration Reform
Anxiety is rising in the bases of both political parties about the deals their leaders might strike on fiscal policy and immigration in the months after the election. ... Lawmakers on both sides have genuine ideological objections to some of the proposals being floated in Washington, and will have to contend with primary challengers if they are seen as compromising on their core beliefs. On the left, many activists and lawmakers fear Obama will betray them in a second term by agreeing to cut Social Security and Medicare. ... Top labor leaders, including AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and AFSCME president Lee Saunders, have sent a letter to Obama and congressional leaders demanding a budget deal that "does not cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits and does not shift costs to beneficiaries or the states" (Sink, 11/12). 

The Associated Press: Labor: Tax The Rich, Don't Touch Safety Nets
Labor's massive voter turnout effort played a major role in helping President Barack Obama win Ohio, Nevada and Wisconsin, according to exit polls, and its leaders are now looking for a more liberal, pro-union agenda from the White House. ... Topping labor's wish list — for now — is a push to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and discouraging Obama from agreeing to any deal with Republicans over the looming "fiscal cliff" that cuts into Social Security and Medicare (Hanahel, 11/10).

The Hill: Groups To Launch Campaign To Keep Federal Research Funding
A coalition of groups is launching a campaign to emphasize federal funding for medical research ahead of negotiations on the "fiscal cliff." Research!America and several dozen patient, industry and other health organizations have planned a week of advocacy starting Monday to convince lawmakers to "champion medical innovation." ... The automatic cuts would reduce budgets at federal health agencies by $3.8 billion unless Congress to stop them, according to Research!America (Vieback, 11/9).

The Hill: Budget Cutters Eye Healthcare Law's Insurance Subsidies
Supporters of President Obama's healthcare law breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday, but they're already back at work trying to protect one of its key provisions from budget cuts. As the election fades into the rearview mirror and attention turns more seriously toward the looming "fiscal cliff," lobbyists and advocates are once again wondering whether Congress might look to the healthcare law for spending cuts. Specifically, lawmakers might be tempted to tap the health law's insurance subsidies — by far its most expensive provision, and probably the most tangible benefit it will provide. Cutting into the subsidies has been discussed before, but it's gaining new urgency as the fiscal cliff — a combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect at the end of the year — draws closer (Baker, 11/12).

Meanwhile, news outlets reported on news about the negotiations from the Sunday morning news shows and other earlier developments -- 

Politico: How Obama And Boehner Could Raise Tax Revenues
[S]omewhere embedded in [Obama and Boehner's] competing statements, may be the path to a deal. ... Democrats want to vote on middle-income rates, and allow the top rates to increase to near 40 percent. In that scenario, nearly $1 trillion in fresh revenue comes into government coffers — enough to blunt automatic defense and discretionary cuts that will take hold Jan. 1. Congress also needs to extend a variety of other measures, including the farm bill and reimbursement rate for physicians treating Medicare patients (Sherman and Epstein, 11/10).

The Associated Press: Highlights Of 'Fiscal Cliff' Taxes And Cuts
The so-called fiscal cliff is an economy-rattling combination of expiring Bush- and Obama-era tax cuts and major across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs. ... The fiscal cliff includes: ... A $55 billion, 9 percent cut in the defense budget next year and another $55 billion in cuts to domestic programs, including a 2 percent cut to Medicare providers (11/10).

Reuters: Republicans Say Deal Can Be Done On U.S. 'Fiscal Cliff' 
[Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on CBS' Face The Nation] warned that no Republican will vote for higher tax rates, and that reform of entitlement programs - such as the Social Security retirement program, the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor - must also be tackled. "We will generate revenue from eliminating deductions and loopholes. But we will insist our Democratic friends reform entitlements. ... That is where the big money is at." (Bull, 11/11).

National Journal: Murray Takes Hard Line on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., suggested on Sunday that Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year if Republicans are unwilling to budge on raising tax rates for the wealthiest Americans (Vasilogambros, 11/11).

ABC News: 'This Week' Transcript: Powerhouse Roundtable; Sens. Patty Murray, Saxby Chambliss
[Sen. Patty Murray - D-Wash.]: "Everyone who has looked at this, including the supercommittee that I served on, said we need to have revenue as part of the solution to this problem as well as looking at entitlements and spending cuts" (11/11).

The Hill: Sen. Corker Optimistic 'There Is A Deal' To Get Beyond 'Fiscal Cliff'
[Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.] said the "real question" for a deficit reduction deal had to do with entitlement program reform. "So there's a way of getting there on the revenue side, the real question is can we come to terms on the entitlement side," Corker said. "By the way when you deal with entitlements you really don't do anything that deals with the economy in the short term." (Strauss, 11/11).

The New York Times: Boehner Tells House G.O.P. to Fall in Line
On Wednesday’s conference call ... Mr. Boehner made an ardent plea for unity, saying they could expect a good deal out of the coming negotiations only if they stuck together. The handful of Republican backbenchers who spoke up agreed, and those included often-rebellious conservatives like Representatives Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina (Weisman and Steinhauer, 11/10).

The Washington Post: Obama, Boehner Reiterate Plan To Work On 'Fiscal Cliff' But Offer Differing Ways To Do So
President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Saturday reiterated pledges to work together to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff” of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. But in their weekly radio addresses, the two leaders offered radically different visions for raising revenues while cutting spending. ... Obama reiterated his campaign promise that he would not ask students, seniors or middle-class families to pay more in taxes. ... Boehner instead proposed “shoring up entitlement programs” and closing tax loopholes as alternatives to raising taxes on the rich (Vastag, 11/10).

Earlier, related news coverage summary: Obama, Boehner Gird For Talks To Avert 'Fiscal Cliff' (11/9)


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