KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints On The Fiscal Cliff: Boehner As ‘Adult In Charge’?; Sorting Through Entitlement Program Spending

The Wall Street Journal: Boehner Plays A Weak Hand Well
Since the election, House Speaker John Boehner has emerged as that Washington rarity, the adult in charge. ... Shortly after the election, Mr. Boehner made the first move by acknowledging that Washington could draw additional revenue if it also cut spending (Karl Rove, 12/19).

USA Today: Taxes Debate Avoids The Hard Truths
[T]he simple truth is, if deficits are to be brought under control, the middle class is going to have to contribute in the form of higher taxes and reduced benefits. ... As Baby Boomers retire, the cost of major benefit programs such Medicare and Social Security is rising faster than the government's ability to pay for them. And tax receipts have sunk to levels not seen since the Truman administration (12/19).

USA Today: Opposing View: Spare The Middle Class From Tax Hike
Middle- and lower-income Americans have been bearing the brunt of our nation's economic malaise, and fiscal condition, for years. No one is suggesting that dealing with the deficit won't require contributions from all Americans. ... But it is essential that ... we keep in mind the challenges confronted by the American middle class in recent decades and the unprecedented prosperity enjoyed by a very small minority at the top (Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., 12/19).

The New York Times: A Tale Of Two Welfare States
In the United States, the welfare system includes dozens of federal programs ... Beginning in 2014, more programs will be added and expanded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: new health-insurance premium-support programs, new cost-sharing subsidies for out-of-pocket health expenditures, financial hardship relief from the new individual mandate penalties, new subsidies for small businesses employing low-income people and expansion of Medicaid. ... the United States intends to move in the direction of more assistance programs and higher marginal tax rates, while Britain intends to move in the direction of fewer programs and lower marginal tax rates (Casey B. Mulligan, 12/19).

The Wall Street Journal: America's Dangerous Powerball Economy 
[M]ore than half of American households receive government transfer benefits. And this isn't just a case of senior citizens taking the Social Security they have paid for. Unearned transfers are exploding. Consider that the number of Americans receiving disability benefits has increased almost 20-fold since 1960, to 8.6 million today from 455,000. The Tax Foundation notes that nearly 70% of Americans now take more out of the tax system than they pay into it. It is a simple fact that the United States is becoming an entitlement state (Arthur C. Brooks, 12/19).

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