KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Deal In Debt Talks Still Elusive As Aug. 2 Deadline Looms

Issues related to trimming entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as revamping the tax code, continue to be difficult to tackle.

The Wall Street Journal: Deficit Negotiators Hit Reset
President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress clashed Sunday over the scope of an effort to cut the federal deficit, one that could be shorn of its most ambitious elements, including revamping the tax code and significantly reducing growth in benefit programs (Lee, McKinnon and Bendavid, 7/11).

The New York Times: Obama Leans On GOP For A Deal On Debt Ceiling
White House officials said Mr. Obama was still determined to pursue the boldest package possible - one that would require new tax revenue as well as cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs - but he faces steadfast opposition from Republicans and growing qualms among Democrats (Landler, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: 'Big Deal' Eludes Obama In Latest Debt Talks
Negotiators agreed to meet again Monday, but otherwise their 75-minute session merely restated their positions. Republicans maintained that a deficit-cutting deal could not include any additional tax revenue, congressional officials said. Democrats argued that cuts in spending alone would not achieve a substantial reduction in federal deficits without also including new revenue. Using the full scope of the bully pulpit, Obama scheduled a news conference for 8 a.m. PDT on Monday to update the public on the negotiations (Nicholas and Mascaro, 7/10).

The Washington Post: Debt Reduction Talks In Limbo As Clock Ticks Toward Aug. 2 Deadline
Both sides appeared Sunday to dig further into their positions, leaving the talks deadlocked, a historic default looming and a fragile economy increasingly vulnerable to the consequences of Washington's entrenched partisanship and ideological divide over taxes and entitlements. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) jolted the negotiations Saturday when he announced that his party would not support the larger deficit-cutting plan Obama has proposed because it includes tax increases, complicating the meeting's agenda. According to a Democratic official familiar with the Sunday talks, Obama asked Republican leaders, "If not now, when?" (Wilson and Montgomery, 7/10).

USA Today: Obama, Leaders Take Last Stab At $4 Trillion Deal
President Obama refused to back down Sunday night from seeking a landmark compromise that would slash about $4 trillion over 10 years from budget deficits and raise the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit. In a rare weekend meeting at the White House, Obama sought to convince recalcitrant lawmakers that tax increases on upper-income Americans and major cuts in popular health care and retirement programs still were within reach - despite Republicans' pessimism. He will reiterate his case in a news conference this morning (Wolf, 7/11).

NPR: Bipartisan Debt Talks To Resume Monday
The weekend's biggest development was more of a breakdown than a breakthrough. Senior congressional Republicans said they would not support an ambitious plan to cut $4 trillion over a decade that could include major changes to the tax code and entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (Shapiro, 7/11).

The New York Times: For Boehner, Lofty Budget Goals Checked By Reality
So [House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio] and the president pursued an ambitious plan that would have reduced spending by as much as $4 trillion over 10 years. It was a transformative proposal, with the potential to improve the ugly deficit picture by shrinking the size of government, overhauling the tax code and instituting consensus changes to shore up Medicare and even Social Security. It was a once-in-a-decade opening. But the speaker's lofty ambitions quickly crashed into the political reality of a divided, highly partisan Congress (Hulse, 7/10).

The Fiscal Times: World Series Of Deficit Reduction: Game One - Tied.
Ironically, Cantor and other Republicans pooh-poohed the Biden negotiating team when Obama first ordered it to begin meeting on May 5, saying that it would make little progress. Instead, over seven weeks, the legislative team identified $2.1 to $2.3 trillion in potential savings, according to a Republican aide. ... Some $200 billion to $400 billion in savings in Medicare and Medicaid were targeted (DePaul and Pianin, 7/11).

Modern Healthcare: Analysts Foresee Health Cuts In Debt Deal
Analysts at equity research firm Oppenheimer say they believe a debt-ceiling agreement could be reached by Aug. 2, and they expect a final deal to include up to $150 billion in cuts to federal health programs over the next 10 years (Zigmond, 7/8). 

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