Conrad Views $4T Savings Blueprint As Counter To GOP Plan
The plan is said to contain "modest" Medicare savings. Meanwhile, Politico reports that the "window" of opportunity for the so-called "gang of six," which is working on a separate track to craft budget solutions and also includes Conrad, is getting smaller.
The New York Times: Good Feeling Gone, In Congress, Anyway
Lawmakers were quickly back to arguing over economic and health care policy, trading blame for high gasoline prices and positioning themselves for the fight over raising the federal debt limit. The Senate found itself at multiple impasses over a small-business bill and judicial confirmations (Steinhauer and Hulse, 5/3).
The Associated Press: Senate Democrats Eye $4T Budget Savings Plan
The top Democrat in the Senate on budget matters said Tuesday that he's preparing a fiscal blueprint to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over the upcoming decade - a plan built on the bipartisan findings of President Barack Obama's deficit commission. The Senate Democratic plan would offer a counterpoint to a House GOP budget plan that passed last month. The GOP measure calls for a dramatic overhaul of Medicare that, for future retirees now 54 years old or younger, would turn the popular elderly health care program into a voucher-like system in which beneficiaries would purchase health insurance (Taylor, 5/3).
Politico: Kent Conrad: $4 Trillion In Cuts Over 10 Years
Indeed, Conrad's $4 trillion, 10-year goal is significantly more than what President Barack Obama committed to in a major speech on the debt issue April 13 and comes close to where House Republicans ended up in their own budget plan adopted days later. To be sure, these number comparisons tell only part of the story in any budget. And Conrad is proposing a very different route than that taken by the House GOP: he would do more to protect the existing Medicare program, for example, and relies on close to $1 trillion in new revenues generated by proposed tax reforms (Rogers, 5/3).
CQ HealthBeat: Lower Medicare Growth Expected In Senate Democratic Budget Plan
A draft fiscal 2012 budget resolution by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad will contain "modest" Medicare savings over a decade and would pay for a plan to stave off Medicare payment cuts to physicians. Conrad, D-N.D., told reporters Tuesday that he outlined four different budget blueprints for his Democratic colleagues at the weekly caucus lunch: a plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.; a proposal by President Obama's fiscal commission; Obama's blueprint from earlier this year, and a draft that he is circulating (Adams, 5/3).
Politico: Gang Of Six Window Is Closing
Members of the Gang of Six seemed frustrated Tuesday and were even more tight-lipped than usual about the progress of negotiations. They met Monday in their first face-to-face meeting since leaving for recess two weeks ago. The lawmakers had one full-group phone call and at least one partial-group phone call over the break, according to a source familiar with the talks, and staffs back on the Hill used the work period to "catch up" with what their bosses had been discussing before leaving town. All indications are that little progress has been made on resolving the "more than just a handful" of issues left to be resolved, from revenues to reforming massive entitlement programs (Shiner, 5/4).
Bloomberg: Sen. Crapo Says No 'Timetable' For Deficit-Cutting Plan
"I do not let external factors like that cause me to set a timetable or a deadline," said Senator Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican. Asked his view of how the negotiations were going, Crapo said, "I go like this," tracing with his finger a jagged line that moved up and down. "I'm halfway on a 'down' but hoping that I'm going to be on an 'up' real fast," he said. Crapo's comments, along with remarks by Senate leaders of both parties casting doubt on prospects for a quick debt-cutting deal, suggested momentum behind the Gang of Six may be flagging at a pivotal time in its members' talks. Its members are debating income tax revisions and how to control costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare (Faler and Rowley, 5/3).
In the background, political policy analysis of the impact of the Medicare elements of the budget plans are still going strong:
CQ HealthBeat: McInturff: Medicare Will Overshadow Health Care Law In 2012 Campaign
Medicare changes in the deficit reduction plan championed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., will be a bigger issue in the 2012 election campaign than the health care overhaul law, Republican pollster William McInturff predicted in an appearance Tuesday. That's a big plus for Democrats McInturff said - but he nevertheless predicted that the GOP would retain control of the House and said the party may gain narrow control of the Senate (Reichard, 5/3).
Bloomberg: Ryan Budget Cuts May Mean 'Abuse' For Republicans Beyond Medicare Backlash
While most attention has focused on cuts to Medicare in the 2012 budget that House Republicans passed on April 15, party lawmakers will also face a backlash against plans to slash $62 billion, or about 15 percent, from non-security discretionary programs, or those for which spending isn't mandated. The targets range from education and disease research to transportation and public safety (Dodge, 5/4).
NPR: Remaking Medicare: Saving Money Or Shifting Costs?
There's no debating that the budget blueprint passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month would make major changes to the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled (Rovner, 5/4).