Fiscal Cliff: Lame Duck Budget Talks Begin
News sources report on the beginnings of negotiations among White House and congressional staff.
Politico: Rough Start For Fiscal Cliff Talks
The opening round of negotiations this week between White House and senior GOP congressional staffers left both sides pessimistic about their ability to reach a quick deal on averting the fiscal cliff, according to sources familiar with the talks. Hill Democrats say Republicans aren't serious about crafting a deal that President Barack Obama can accept. ... For their part, Republicans remain unconvinced that Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make the kind of significant concessions on entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid that would make them agree to tax rate hikes (Sherman, Bresnahan and Budoff Brown, 11/20).
CNN Money: Deficit Reduction? Not Without Entitlement Reform
The nation is staring into the fiscal cliff, which involves $7 trillion worth of spending increases and tax cuts over a decade. If no other action is taken, it will start to take effect in January, kicking off with $491 billion in deficit reduction in fiscal 2013, a large chunk of which will come from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Another $54 million in spending cuts are set to take place as a result of last year's debt-reduction deal. Empowered by his re-election victory, Obama is centering the conversation on increasing taxes on the wealthy. House Republicans, who lost seats on November 6, have said they are willing to talk about raising revenue if it is accompanied by spending cuts and entitlement reform. House Speaker John Boehner called on Democrats Monday to come forward with proposals (Luhby, 11/21).
Meanwhile, interest groups stake out their positions and brace for cuts.
Politico: Medicare Cuts Give Health Providers Jitters
The $716 billion in Medicare "cuts" that got so much attention in the presidential election have already begun sinking their teeth into health care providers. And there are widespread jitters that any further cuts as part of a year-end deal to stave off sequestration or strike a "grand bargain" for a long-term fiscal deal would deeply gouge some providers, if not put them out of business (Norman, 11/20).
The Hill: Nursing Homes Tout Quality Improvement, Blast Sequester
The lead advocacy group for nursing homes touted high customer satisfaction in its annual survey, released Tuesday, and cautioned that automatic federal spending cuts could hamper the industry. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) found that short-stay patients' satisfaction reached 87 percent in 2012 as staff turnover decreased and individuals received more time with nurses. The group has been pushing Congress to stop the sequester's looming cuts to Medicare, which AHCA President Mark Parkinson said could "undo this progress" (Viebeck, 11/20).
Los Angeles Times: Union Ads Take New Tack: Praising GOP Members
Labor unions seeking a fiscal solution that protects entitlement programs and raises taxes on the rich are trying the carrot approach before taking the stick to lawmakers. A new six-figure ad campaign backed by three major unions includes radio spots praising four Republican House members as "leaders willing to put people ahead of partisan politics." ... The commercials call on the lawmakers "to stand up for us by investing in job creation, extending the middle class tax cuts, and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and education from cuts." (Gold, 11/20).