KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Politics, Posturing Swirl Around Obama Plan

President Barack Obama made clear that any cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid had to be accompanied by increased taxes for wealthy people and corporations. Many news outlets are analyzing the impact of the line in the sand he drew on the issues.

CBS: Obama Steals Thunder From Super Committee With Veto Threat
After the marathon negotiation to raise the nation's legal borrowing limit resulted in a stop-gap creation of the so-called "Super Committee" of a dozen lawmakers to work out a compromise on deficit reduction, some pundits said the panel would have too much power. President Obama on Monday might have just taken their power away. As he unveiled his $3 trillion deficit reduction plan, he pledged to veto any legislation that takes the part of his plan changing Medicare that does not also include his proposal to raise taxes on the richest Americans. Since half of the panel — the six Republicans — has pledged not to raise taxes on anyone under any circumstances, compromise is even more difficult today than it was at the panel's creation (Daly, 9/19).

The New York Times: Obama Draws New Hard Line On Long-Term Debt Reduction
Faced with falling poll numbers for his leadership and an anxious party base, Mr. Obama did not just propose but insisted that any long-term debt-reduction plan must not shave future Medicare benefits without also raising taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations (Calmes, 9/20).

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Deficit Proposal Marks A Move Away From Compromise
Gone was the effort to strike a deal with Republicans. Gone were the summertime proposals to consider raising the eligibility age for Medicare or to change the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security. Gone too was the conciliatory language about finding common ground and challenging the orthodoxies of both parties. In their place was a firm veto threat, changes in Medicare that would largely protect beneficiaries, a demand for higher taxes from the wealthy and a catchy slogan, the "Buffett rule," designed to convey Obama's belief that people earning more than $1 million a year should not be able to pay a lower tax rate than middle-income households (Nicholas and Mascaro, 9/19).

The Washington Post: Obama Proposes New Taxes On Wealthy For Half Of Debt Plan
In a Rose Garden address on Monday, the president urged lawmakers to find even greater savings. And he vowed to veto any approach that does not include new levies on the wealthy alongside any benefit cuts in Medicare, the health insurance program for the nation's retirees. He proposed nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings, largely by reducing excessive payments (Goldfarb, 9/19).

The New York Times: In Deficit Plans, Obama Drops Compromise For Confrontation
The key points of the plan read like a mirror image of the priorities espoused by House Republicans. The president proposed raising taxes by $1.5 trillion, mostly on the wealthy, while making only modest cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and walling off Social Security from any changes. The plan also would reduce military spending by more than $1 trillion (Applebaum, 9/19).

CQ HealthBeat: Analysis: Obama Adopts Rope-A-Dope Strategy Around Health Care Entitlements
The strategy revealed by President Obama's deficit reduction plan Monday appears to be one of letting health care entitlement programs take some hits and sustain some damage — in hopes he can ultimately keep them going without drastic changes. If things go Obama’s way, Republicans will mount all-out attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and the health care law in the coming months, deriding the president all the while for doing too little in his deficit reduction plan to curb spending to deal with the debt crisis (Reichard, 9/19).

Politico: Obama Links Entitlement Cuts To Tax Changes
President Barack Obama on Monday released a $3 trillion deficit plan that includes $320 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts and dramatic changes in health policy. But Obama in his Rose Garden speech made clear that his commitment to an array of structural changes to health care entitlement programs is contingent on Republican willingness to impose taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable," he said. "We will reform Medicare and Medicaid but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations," (Haberkorn, 9/19).

The Hill: Liberals Pan Benefit Cuts In Obama Plan
Liberals on and off Capitol Hill are hammering President Obama's proposal to scale back Medicare and Medicaid benefits as part of his newly released strategy to cut deficit spending. While the liberals are praising many elements of the president's plan – particularly the tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans – they're already vowing to fight provisions to push additional costs on seniors and other beneficiaries of the nation's popular health care entitlements (Lillis, 9/19).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.