KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Boehner Fails To Rally GOP, Pulls His Tax Plan Back

The House speaker was under pressure from conservatives who wanted bigger cuts in entitlement spending.

The New York Times: Boehner Cancels Tax Vote In Face Of G.O.P. Revolt
Speaker John A. Boehner's effort to pass fallback legislation to avert a fiscal crisis in less than two weeks collapsed Thursday night in an embarrassing defeat after conservative Republicans refused to support legislation that would allow taxes to rise on the most affluent households in the country. ... The stunning turn of events in the House left the status of negotiations to head off a combination of automatic tax increases and significant federal spending cuts in disarray with little time before the start of the new year (Weisman, 12/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Boehner's Budget 'Plan B' Collapses
House Speaker John Boehner, facing a rebellion in his party's conservative ranks, abandoned his own plan to avert tax increases for most Americans Thursday night, throwing Washington's high-stakes budget negotiations into disarray and bringing the prospect of tumbling over the fiscal cliff into sudden focus. ... Mr. Boehner was already under pressure from party conservatives for concessions he had made in earlier talks with Mr. Obama, including a weekend offer to raise tax rates on millionaires and allow a one-year increase in the debt limit, in exchange for Mr. Obama proposing cuts in Medicare and other fast-growing entitlement programs. Administration officials now say they doubt whether Mr. Boehner would have been able to pass that proposal (Hook, Bendavid and Lee, 12/21).

The Washington Post: Boehner Abandons Plan To Avoid 'Fiscal Cliff'
House Speaker John A. Boehner threw efforts to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff" into chaos late Thursday, as he abruptly shuttered the House for the holidays after failing to win support from his fellow Republicans for a plan to let tax rates rise for millionaires. ... Emboldened liberals quickly argued that Democrats should demand additional concessions from Republicans, either upping the demand for fresh tax revenue or withdrawing Obama's offer to seek savings through cuts in federal health and retirement programs (Montgomery and Helderman, 12/20).

Los Angeles Times: Boehner's 'Fiscal Cliff' Plan Fails
Now, Obama faces a crucial test of his leadership, with little time left to craft a deal. Obama's most recent offer is likely to be the starting point. He made a substantial concession: raising taxes only on household income above $400,000, rather than the $250,000 threshold he campaigned on for reelection. As he pursues votes in Congress, the president will need to face down Democrats, particularly the liberal wing that may feel emboldened to demand that a deal be tilted toward their views — perhaps with additional spending on infrastructure or unemployment benefits (Mascaro, Memoli and Parsons, 12/21).

Politico: Cliff Chaos: Boehner Pulls GOP Bill
Earlier on Thursday, Boehner, using his harshest tone of the fiscal cliff debate, said the White House has "done nothing" since he relented on letting low tax rates lapse on wealthy Americans. "For weeks the White House said if I moved on rates, that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reform," Boehner said in an afternoon news conference. "I did my part, they've done nothing" (Sherman, Budoff Brown and Bresnahan, 12/20).

Politico: President Obama's Dilemma
Thursday’s revolt was a grim reminder of how closely Obama's future is tethered to that of his political rivals. If House Speaker John Boehner can't muscle his own bill through the House, his power to persuade his colleagues to accept a deal with the White House appears greatly diminished. And that means it might be tough for Obama to forge any agreement with House Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff this year — or to push through his second-term agenda in the years to come (Budoff Brown, 12/21).

Modern Healthcare: Fiscal Cliff Appears Closer As Sequester Bill Clears House And 'Plan B' Vote Is Dropped
Fiscal-cliff negotiations hit a new roadblock Thursday when House leaders—short of enough votes—pulled their "Plan B" tax bill from the floor shortly after the House narrowly passed veto-threatened legislation to replace part of the mandatory federal spending reductions scheduled for 2013 while keeping in place payment cuts to Medicare. Introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as part of the ongoing debt discussions, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 passed 215-209, with one member—Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah)—voting "present" and six members not voting (Zigmond, 12/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Obama Offer Likely Would Spare NIH, CDC From Budget Blade In January
What will happen to funding for such agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if deficit negotiators are able to head off the automatic 8 percent cuts they face Jan. 2 under the sequester provisions of the budget control law? The answer to that depends on whether any final deal includes the discretionary spending provisions of President Barack Obama's most recent fiscal cliff or the Republican provisions (Reichard, 12/20).

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