Republicans Set Up Election-Year Showdown On Budget
As the Senate prepares to vote today on four separate budget plans -- all of which will likely be rejected -- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he will use the next go-round over the debt limit to force Democrats to make deeper cuts to federal health and safety-net programs, including Medicare.
The New York Times: Republicans Pledge New Standoff On Debt Limit
But Republicans have not been able to unify around an alternative. Instead, they will bring forward four different budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 — with a budget passed by House Republicans viewed as the most liberal of the lot. One by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would eliminate the Departments of Education, Commerce and Energy; cut the National Park Service by 30 percent and NASA by a quarter; and end Medicare in 2014. Senator Mike Lee of Utah proposes a budget that would raise the retirement age to 68, cut the size of government in half over 25 years, and end the payroll tax as well as all taxes on savings and investment and replace them with a 25 percent flat tax (Weisman, 5/15).
Politico: Moderate Dems Frustrated By No Budget
The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday is expected to reject all four GOP budget plans, including the contentious House-passed proposal authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). A fifth budget, offered by Republicans and based on President Barack Obama 2013 spending blueprint, also will likely fall short of the 50 votes needed to pass, dealing the White House an embarrassing election-year blow. But Democratic leaders have defiantly refused to lay out their own vision for how to deal with federal debt and spending, arguing that last summer’s debt-ceiling deal essentially serves as an actual budget (Wong, 5/15).
The Washington Post: Boehner Threatens Another Debt-Ceiling Fight
Boehner, meanwhile, made it clear that he is ready to use the debt limit as a cudgel to force Democrats to compromise, particularly on a strategy for restraining spending on Medicare and other federal health programs, which are the biggest drivers of future borrowing (Montgomery, 5/15).
The Wall Street Journal: Boehner Draws Line In Sand On Debt
Tuesday's salvos were the latest in the election-year debate over the size and scope of the federal government. Democrats have called for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit and Republicans have called for spending cuts and overhauls of entitlement programs like Medicare (Paletta, 5/15).
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Clinton To Obama: Talk About Cuts
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that President Barack Obama should spend more time talking to the American people about his budget proposals to launch a national dialogue about the crucial issues. The "president should talk more about the Medicare cuts he has proposed” and the “defense cuts he has proposed," Mr. Clinton said. … "He is at least trying to honor the deal he made with Republicans, and I think he should talk more about it and I think they should talk more about it," he said during remarks at a "fiscal summit" held in Washington by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (Paletta, 5/15).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: After Last Year's Budget Failures, Lawmakers Gather For Annual Deficit Pep Talk
Boehner made the top headline at this year's summit by declaring that when it comes time for Congress to raise the nation's borrowing cap he will again insist on spending cuts and budget reforms exceeding the amount of the debt increase to offset it. He also promised a vote on renewing trillions of dollars in tax cuts passed during the Bush administration, prompting a predictable response from top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California (5/16).
Modern Healthcare: Medicare, Medicaid Overhaul Deal Unlikely, Lawmakers Say
Congress is unlikely to reach a "grand bargain" to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid during the post-election lame duck session, according to two congressional budget leaders. In successive appearances Tuesday at a deficit-reduction summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the panel's ranking member, agreed that any deal to enact long-term changes to the federal healthcare programs is more likely in 2013 (Daly, 5/15).
NPR's Planet Money blog: 50 Years Of Government Spending, In 1 Graph
Medicaid, Medicare and other health services are the huge gainers here. Together, they make up a quarter of government spending. Fifty years ago Medicare and Medicaid didn't even exist, and federal spending on other health-related services made up a tiny sliver of the whole (Vo, 5/14).