KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Deficit Reduction, Entitlements Are Buzzwords As Debt Panel Starts Work

The 'super committee' held its first meeting this week, kicking off its mission with a note of bipartisanship. Many observers worry, though, that this might be the end of this spirit of cooperation. Meanwhile, a groups of Senators from both parties also met this week — privately — to revive the hope for a "grand debt-cutting bargain." 

The New York Times: A Bipartisan Move To Tackle Benefits Programs
In a significant shift driven by bipartisan concern about the looming long-term debt, Republicans and Democrats are no longer fighting over whether to tackle the popular entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — but over how to do it (Calmes and Pear, 9/8).

Los Angeles Times: Deficit Reduction Panel Starts On Bipartisan Note
The first meeting of the super-committee on deficit reduction opened in outwardly bipartisan fashion, with members unanimously approving ground rules as it begins the daunting task of cutting federal deficits by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving. That may be the only uncontested vote the 12-member panel takes in the months ahead (Mascaro, 9/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Congressional Debt Reduction Panel Starts Its Work With Vows To Lift Sluggish Economy
In an early show of optimism, Republicans and Democrats on a powerful committee charged with cutting deficits pledged Thursday to aim higher than their $1.2 trillion target, work to boost job creation and reassure an anxious nation that Congress can solve big problems. Tax reform as well as cuts to benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare will be among the options considered, members of the so-called super committee emphasized, although no specific proposals were debated at an opening session than ran scarcely an hour (9/8).

Modern Healthcare: Past Is Prologue On Deficit-Reduction Plan
President Barack Obama plans to send the panel his own list of deficit-reduction ideas, according to a spokesman. And it could be a substantial list, given the need to offset the cost of planned initiatives aimed at cutting the national unemployment rate. … Republicans also have urged the super committee to utilize previously suggested and cost-estimated deficit-reduction ideas. On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged the deficit panel to incorporate cuts proposed by the bipartisan deficit-reduction group led by Vice President Joe Biden earlier in the summer (Daly, 9/8).

ABC News: New Cast, Same Problems? The Super Committee's First Meeting
The committee has until Thanksgiving to come to an agreement on a plan to achieve a $1.5 trillion cut to the deficit over the next decade. If they do not, the trigger options, negotiated during the debt ceiling deal, would take effect. Co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX., said that his approach to leading the committee, along with co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is with a sense "of urgency, high hopes and realistic expectations." Today's meeting was organizational in nature but opening statements by each of the 12 members showed that although publically they have a wiliness to work together, the same ideological differences still remain. Republicans urged for there to be changes to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Democrats continued using the phrase "balanced," which calls for increases in tax revenues (Miller, 9/8).

The Washington Post: Senators Meet Privately On Urging Broad Debt-Reduction Plan From Super Committee
More than two dozen senators from both parties met privately this week to revive hopes of a grand debt-cutting bargain — exploring how to push the newly formed debt "super committee" to find far more than its assigned goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. The senators want at least $3 trillion slashed from the deficit over the next decade. In addition, they plan to press the committee to pass a major tax overhaul to lower rates and close special-interest loopholes, as well as changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, according to several participants (Wallsten, 9/8).

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