KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

McConnell, Others Demanding Spending Cuts – Including Medicare

News outlets, especially the Sunday talk shows, highlighted the ongoing partisan battles on entitlement cuts.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Senate Minority Leader McConnell Says Spending Must Be Cut
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said now is the time for the U.S. Congress to cut government spending. ... Yesterday, Obama said that any reductions in spending should come alongside higher levies on rich Americans and companies by changes to the tax code (Hopkins, 1/6).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Shifts Focus to Spending Cuts
"The tax issue is finished, over. … That's behind us," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on ABC on Sunday. "Now it's time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction." He said spending cuts should target entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which Democrats have been reluctant to cut (Gorman, 1/6).

USA Today: Obama, GOP Maintain Dispute Over Taxes
The White House and Congress agree on the need for a new debt reduction deal, but not on the terms of debate. ... President Obama, however, says he will continue to push for a "balanced" debt cut plan, one that includes more tax revenues from the wealthy as well as reductions to popular programs, possibly including Medicare and Social Security (Jackson, 1/6). 

The Hill: Simpson, Bowles Call For More Spending Cuts
Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles, who crafted the Bowles-Simpson plan, said the tax package is only a small part of what’s needed. “This thing isn’t going to do anything, really,” Simpson said Sunday on “Meet the Press.” He said tackling the deficit will still require significant spending cuts, especially to entitlement programs. ... he noted that increases in lifespan are rapidly straining Medicare and Social Security (Baker, 1/6).

The New York Times: G.O.P. Begins Soul-Searching After Tax Vote
When Republican leaders in Congress agreed to raise taxes on the wealthy last week, it left the increasingly fractured and feuding party unified on perhaps only one point: that it is at a major crossroads. ... Having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, Republicans now face a country that is increasingly younger, multiethnic and skeptical of Republican positions on some social issues. The party’s deficit-cutting agenda relies heavily on reducing taxes for the wealthy, which irks middle-class voters, and cutting spending on government programs, like Social Security and Medicare, that are popular with many voters (Shear and Rutenberg, 1/5).

The Associated Press: Republican Party Seems As Divided, Angry As Ever
To a greater degree than the Democrats, the Republican Party has struggled with internal divisions for the past few years. But these latest clashes have seemed especially public and vicious. ... Fiscal issues aren't going away, with lawmakers were agree on a broad deficit-reduction package. ... Frustrated conservative activists and GOP insiders hope that the continued focus on fiscal matters will help unite the factions as the party pushes for deep spending cuts. That fight also may highlight Democratic divisions because the party's liberal wing vehemently opposes any changes to Social Security or Medicare (Peoples, 1/5).

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