Possible Medicare Cuts In (Very) Tentative Debt Deal
From the morning talk shows throughout Sunday afternoon, a debt-limit deal appeared to be in the works.
Politico: "The White House and Republican leaders closed in Sunday on a debt ceiling deal giving President Barack Obama greater certainty in managing the Treasury's borrowing needs while making a joint commitment to major deficit reductions without any explicit concessions by the GOP on new tax revenues" (Rogers, 7/31).
USA Today: "[Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] is the first top congressional leader to say he's on board with the plan, which has been in the works since yesterday. Liberals and conservatives in and out of Congress have been critical throughout the day about what they've heard about the plan" (Cami, 7/31).
The Wall Street Journal: "House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) appears to be balking at the debt ceiling deal ... House aides have warned that just because Mr. Reid has signed off on the deal doesn't mean the deal is done. ... First, the debt ceiling deal that's just been tentatively agreed needs to pass the Senate and the House. Then, Republican and Democratic leaders will have to deal with the politically-charged question of who they appoint to the super committee of lawmakers who will decide what more spending to cut, or revenues to raise, to narrow the budget deficit by as much as $2 trillion over ten years" (Boles, 7/31).
The Hill: "Sources familiar with the outlines of the deal say it would raise the debt limit by about $2.7 trillion and reduce the deficit by the same amount in two steps. It would cut about $1 trillion in spending up front and set up a select bicameral committee to put together a future deficit-reduction package worth $1.7 trillion to $1.8 trillion. Failure of Congress to pass the future deficit-reduction package would automatically trigger cuts to defense spending and Medicare. An aide familiar with the deal said the Medicare cut would not affect beneficiaries. Instead, healthcare providers and insurance companies would see lower payments" (Bolton, 7/31).
Reuters: "Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on CNN's State of the Union said lawmakers were looking at $3 trillion in spending cuts. 'We're very close,' McConnell said" (Smith, 7/31).
The Washington Post: "Late Saturday, McConnell and [Vice President Joseph] Biden appeared to have settled on a trigger that would cut most government spending including the defense budget and Medicare - by as much as 4 percent if the committee failed to produce a plan to tame the spiraling national debt, the officials said" (Montgomery and Helderman, 7/31).
USA Today: "The outlines of a deal reportedly call for an initial debt limit increase of $1 trillion, with spending cuts of the same amount over the next decade. A second debt limit increase of $1.4 trillion would depend on a newly created congressional committee that would recommend similar budget cuts, including possible tax reform and changes to Social Security and Medicare" (Jackson, 7/31).
Fox News: "Importantly, a 'trigger' in the proposal would automatically enact across-the-board cuts to Medicare, defense and other areas if the committee's recommendations are not approved by the end of the year" (Emanuel, Pergram, Turner and Henry, 7/31).
The New York Times: "Under the framework that negotiators were discussing today, half of those cuts would come in defense spending, while the other half would be a combination of other domestic spending, like discretionary programs and farm subsidies. Cuts to Medicare would not make up more than 3 percent of the non-military cuts. While many Republicans are loath to risk such cuts to defense, some of the more Tea Party-influenced freshmen members are less concerned with that than with getting big spending cuts overall while avoiding tax increases at all costs" (Calmes and Steinhauer, 7/31).
Politico: "[Democratic Sen. Chuck] Schumer said he did secure one victory: No entitlement cuts in the initial round of cuts, particularly to Medicare -- which Democrats hope to use a major issue against GOP Senate and House candidates in 2012" (Thrush, 7/31).
Kaiser Health News summarized coverage of the possible effects of a default: Default Scenarios Include Questions About Fate Of Medicare, Medicaid, Government Workers