Lawmakers Continue To Tussle Over Short- And Long-Term Budget Issues
Momentum appears to building for efforts to address record budget deficits by reining in spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Meanwhile, as both parties agree they need to reach a deal to provide funding to keep the government functioning in the the current year, legislative riders that would impose restrictions on federal agencies and cut off funding for Planned Parenthood continue to trip up their progress.
The Washington Post: Social Security Splinters Democrats In Debate Over Reining In Budget Deficits
With momentum building to rein in record budget deficits, Democrats are sharply divided over whether to tackle popular but increasingly expensive safety-net programs for the elderly, particularly Social Security. Meanwhile, Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, plans to release a memo Friday arguing that the deficit has emerged as an uncommonly powerful political issue and that 2012 voters will reward the party that takes bold action to restrain government spending - including overhauling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (Montgomery, 3/24).
CNN Money: Sorry GOP: Tax Revenue Needs To Go Up
One the biggest reasons for increased spending - and hence, high debt - is the aging of the population. That means burgeoning Medicare and Social Security rolls, especially over the next 25 years. Inflation in health care costs is the other big problem. In both cases, fixing those problems without increasing revenue isn't feasible. For one, kicking grandma to the curb is not really an option in civilized society. And making adjustments to spending will not happen overnight (Sahadi, 3/5).
The Hill: Medicaid Advocates Expect Dem Proposal for Program Cuts
Medicaid advocates came out of a meeting with Democrats this week expecting the party to propose cuts to the entitlement program. They expect those cuts would be smaller than the ones that will be in the Republicans' 2012 budget proposal and some see them as a way for Democrats to start the bargaining process with the GOP (Pecquet, 3/25).
The Washington Post: House GOP 'Riders' Restricting Federal Agencies Could Hinder Budget Deal
Congressional leaders in both parties agree they have to stop putting off the inevitable and reach a deal to fund the federal government through September, the end of the fiscal year. But there is one big obstacle in the way of a long-term deal, one that goes beyond the arguments over dollars and cents. The budget proposal the House Republican majority approved this year included a number of unrelated amendments - riders, in Congress-speak - that would impose restrictions on federal agencies. One rider would prohibit federal money from going to Planned Parenthood (Kane, 3/24).
Politico: Scott Brown's Planned Parenthood Dodge?
Sen. Scott Brown is coming under increasing pressure from both sides of the aisle to clarify whether or not he opposes defunding Planned Parenthood. Abortion rights supporters lauded a Monday statement from the Massachusetts Republican, in which he denounced House Republicans' budget "proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning" as going "too far." It was widely read as opposition to Rep. Mike Pence's (R-Ind.) amendment to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal dollars (Kliff, 3/24).
The Hill: Lance Armstrong Blasts GOP Over Cancer Cuts
Lance Armstrong, who captured seven Tour de France titles after overcoming cancer, argued Republican cuts to federal research agencies would have a startling effect on cancer treatment and research. "Sometimes in D.C. this can be viewed as a political issue for some," Armstrong said in an appearance with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN). "This isn't a political issue. This disease doesn't care if you're Republican or Democrat or a Tea Partier or right in the middle" (Millman, 3/24).