KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Support for Debt Panel’s Plan Greater Than Expected, But Still Falls Short

News outlets report that while a bipartisan majority of the presidential debt commission announced their support today for a package that would slash the national deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, there were not enough votes to send the plan to Congress.

The New York Times: Backing for Fiscal Panel's Plan Grows, but Still Falls Short
The commission did not formally vote because while 11 of 18 members backed the plan, that was short of the 14-vote supermajority required to send the plan to Congress for action under the terms of Mr. Obama's executive order last February establishing the commission. Even so, panel members of both parties, and opponents of the plan as well as supporters, said as they expressed their views that the package should serve as 'a template' for future action, in the words of Representative Xavier Becerra, a Democratic opponent from California (Calmes, 12/3).

The Washington Post: Deficit plan wins 11 of 18 votes; more than expected, but not enough to force action
The commission's final plan recommends making sharp cuts to military spending and phasing in a higher retirement age. The package would raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion by 2020, primarily through moves that would eliminate or reduce long-standing credits, such as the home mortgage interest deduction. Meanwhile, the top income tax rate for both individuals and corporations would be dramatically lowered, from 35 percent to 29 percent or less (Dennis and Montgomery, 12/3).

The Associated Press: Deficit-cutting plan fails to advance to Capitol
It would also nearly freeze the Pentagon budget and cut outright the budgets for most domestic agencies. But it largely leaves alone Obama's health care overhaul bill and Republicans say it falls short of tackling the unsustainable growth of Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health care programs for the elderly and the poor (12/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Deficit Plan Fails to Win Panel Support
Despite falling short of the supermajority, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform received the backing of key, and somewhat surprising senators. Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), one of the more liberal Senate Democrats, said he supported the plan, even though he had serious qualms about aspects of the report (Boles, 12/3).

Roll Call: Fiscal Commission Fails to Advance Debt-Reduction Plan
Neither Democrats nor Republicans expected the blueprint would be translated into bill form and pass both chambers before the end of the lame-duck session. Instead, lawmakers on the commission talked about setting the stage for budget negotiations next year (Dennis, 12/3).

The Fiscal Times: Deficit Plan Gets Support From Conservative Senators
Conservative Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Mike Crapo announced on Thursday they will support a far-ranging deficit reduction plan crafted by the co-chairmen of the president's fiscal commission – providing an important political boost for the measure on Capitol Hill. ... House Republican members of the commission are likely to oppose the plan because of its tax increases and failure to address their concerns about the health care reform law enacted earlier this year (Pianin, 11/2).

Journal Sentinel: Ryan Explains 'No' Vote On Debt-Reduction Plan
Saying he'll vote against the debt-reduction plan authored by leaders of the President's fiscal commission, US Rep. Paul Ryan had both good and bad things to say about the proposal Thursday. ... Ryan said he would vote against the plan when the commission meets Friday because it accepts the premise of the new health care law and doesn't restructure the country's health care entitlements, chiefly Medicare (Gilbert, 12/2).

The Hill: Rep. Ryan says deficit reduction plan would 'entrench ObamaCare'
"Obviously I am not going to vote for it," he told reporters at an event organized by The Christian Science Monitor. He said the plan makes spending problems related to healthcare "dramatically worse" (Wasson, 12/2).

Bloomberg: Five Members of Debt Panel Oppose Bowles-Simpson Plan, Enough to Reject It
Five members of President Barack Obama's debt commission said they oppose its $3.8 trillion budget-cutting proposal, enough to ensure rejection of the plan (Faler and Przybyla, 12/2).

Related KHN document: Text: Fiscal Commission's Recommendations On Health Care Spending

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