Super Committee May Delay Tax Details
As the panel's Nov. 23 deadline approaches and doubts about its ability for success persist, a new approach is emerging in which the panel may opt to postpone politically difficult decisions by deciding the amount of new revenue their deficit-reduction plan would require, but leaving specifics to Congress' tax-writing committees to fill in next year.
The Wall Street Journal: Deficit Deal Might Delay Tax Overhaul
The approach could ease the path to an agreement, by allowing Congress to reach the outlines of an agreement on tax revenues and spending cuts this year, while postponing the difficult details of a tax overhaul until next year, and handing the issue back to the congressional tax-writing committees (McKinnon, 11/14).
Politico: Deficit Panel Ponders Endgame
If the super committee is going to act, this is the week. That's the narrative gripping Washington as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction sits less than 10 days before its statutory Nov. 23 deadline to report a plan to cut the nation's burgeoning deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade (Sherman and Bresnahan, 11/13).
The New York Times: Deficit Panel Seeks To Defer Details On Raising Taxes
Under this approach, the panel would decide on the amount of new revenue to be raised but would leave it to the tax-writing committees of Congress to fill in details next year, well beyond the Nov. 23 deadline for the panel itself to reach an agreement. That would put off painful political decisions but ensure that the debate over deficit reduction stretched into the election year. … If the panel falls short, a series of automatic cuts, split evenly between military and civilian programs, would take effect, starting in 2013. Some fear that such a failure could lead to the kind of stock market slide and loss of investor confidence that accompanied stalled efforts to raise the federal debt limit earlier this year (Pear, 11/13).
Los Angeles Times: 'Super Committee' Well Short Of A Deal, Members Say
With a week remaining for the congressional "super committee" to strike a deficit-reduction deal, a top Democrat said his party is not in agreement on an offer. … The committee is deadlocked as it struggles to overcome deep partisan divisions on tax and spending proposals to reduce federal deficits. The committee faces a Thanksgiving deadline to reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and most members remained in Washington this weekend as the largely secretive panel continued closed-door negotiations (Mascaro, 11/13).
The Washington Post: On Super Committee, Growing Doubts About Reaching A Deal
The public debate has grown more divisive since both sides laid out their latest offers last week. Negotiators, already under attack from the left, are facing fresh pressure from the anti-tax right. And charges of betrayal are expected to intensify Monday when the House returns from a week-long break, fueling concerns that a deal could emerge from the super committee only to die in the House or the Senate (Montgomery and Helderman, 11/13).
Reuters: U.S. Lawmakers Press For Debt Deal As Deadline Nears
Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers aim to present a dramatic show of support this week for a congressional super committee racing against the clock to agree on a deficit-cutting plan. The lawmakers, worried about the political and economic consequences of failure, are crossing party lines and eschewing the trench warfare that has marred debate over how to cut America's deficit, now topping more than $1 trillion a year. In a symbolic show of unity that is rare in the polarized world of modern Washington politics, as many as 150 members of Congress are expected to stand together on the Capitol steps on Tuesday to demonstrate solidarity with the committee (Ferraro, 11/14).
Meanwhile, a number of news outlets are zeroing in on how the debt panel may tackle Medicare and the program's more affluent beneficiaries —
Kaiser Health News: Affluent Seniors Could Take A Hit On Medicare
In the scramble to come up with a deficit-reduction deal by Thanksgiving, members of Capitol Hill's super committee appear to have one group squarely in their cross hairs: high-income Medicare beneficiaries (Carey and Werber Serafini, 11/13).
CQ HealthBeat: Seniors Face Uncertain Costs As Lawmakers Eye Market-Based Medicare
Congress faces enormous pressure to restructure Medicare after the next election regardless of how deeply the deficit reduction package ends up reducing the cost of the entitlement program. That is because Medicare's costs are on track to jump at least a projected 6 percent a year, dwarfing whatever level of savings the budget control law produces through automatic cuts or a proposal being developed by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Lawmakers already are examining how best to slow the program's rising costs while preserving core benefits and not alienating the program's politically powerful supporters (Reichard, 11/11).
Politico Pro: The Puzzle Of Raising The Medicare Age
One way to save Medicare money is to gradually boost the eligibility age from 65 to 67, eventually aligning it with the older Social Security age being phased in. The idea is popular with Republicans, some Democrats and various deficit experts. Even President Barack Obama said last summer that he could consider it as part of comprehensive deficit-cutting package. The House Republicans included it in their budget proposal last spring, which passed without Democratic support. And it's an element of Mitt Romney's Medicare overhaul blueprint. Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-Okla.) who supports the age increase, acknowledges it may require "some sacrifices of older Americans." But he said tough choices "are necessary for our country to survive" (DoBias, 11/14).
The Fiscal Times: Senior Backlash Builds On Social Security Cuts
Seniors were also hit by rising health care bills in recent years, since Medicare only pays for 75 percent of doctor bills. The Census Bureau's experimental measure for poverty, which was released last week, showed 15.9 percent of seniors were living in poverty when higher health care costs were taken into account (Goozner, 11/14).
Arizona Republic: Budget Ax May Come Down On Congress Pensions, Benefits
As Capitol Hill's super committee continues work on a landmark deficit-reduction plan that could reduce services and restrict benefits for Americans, some taxpayer watchdogs and lawmakers want Congress to first take the ax to the comfortable pensions and retirement packages that its own members enjoy (Nowicki, 11/12).
Another moving target is how the super committee's work could impact the health care sector, including physicians who continue to press for a Medicare pay fix.
ABC: Could Health Care Cuts Curtail Fastest Growing Job Sector?
As the Super Committee combs the federal budget for health savings, potential cuts to health aide providers could also curtail one of America's fastest growing job sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for home health aides to increase by 46 percent according to their 20 year outlook. The bureau also projects that the home health aide sector alone will add half a million jobs by 2018. But those numbers rely on current levels of government spending as budget cutters in Washington are looking for innovative ways to cut health care spending while dampening the blow back from any unpopular decisions (Ono, 11/12).
CQ HealthBeat: Doctors Push for Deficit Reduction Committee Action On Perennial Medicare Payment Cuts
Congress should act immediately through the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to repeal the Medicare physician payment update formula, more than 100 physician groups said in a letter Thursday. Under the formula through which physician payments are calculated, known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), doctor payments are scheduled to be cut by 27.4 percent in January. "The uncertainty and instability that the annual threat of SGR-related payment cuts cause for physician practices can not be overstated," the coalition — led by the American Medical Association (AMA) — wrote to deficit reduction committee co-Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican (Bristol, 11/11).
Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle: Doctors' Group Fights Proposed Medicare Fee Cut
The lobbying clout of doctors is being tested by a 27 percent Medicare fee cut that Congress may be unable to reverse as lawmakers grapple with proposals to pare the deficit by $1.2 trillion. Doctors hope a congressional debt panel will delay the reduction, as Congress has done often in the past decade. ... The AMA plans to recommend next year a restructuring of Medicare to keep the program solvent. A report the association will consider adopting as policy this weekend, produced by an internal committee, concludes that "it seems unlikely that the traditional Medicare program can continue to serve as the primary source of health care coverage and services for seniors" in the long term (Wayne, 11/12).
New Orleans Times-Picayune: American Medical Association Is In Town For 4-Day Meeting
Amid mounting economic uncertainties in the U.S. health care market, the American Medical Association's representative body convenes today ... Among the hot topics at the session: AMA lobbying of the congressional deficit super committee, implementation of the federal health care overhaul, payment models and methods for Medicare and Medicaid, and drug shortages (Barrow, 11/12).
Boston Globe: Mass. Research Funding At Risk
Massachusetts university and hospital officials, determined to prevent erosion of the research and development pillar of the state’s economy, have joined a lobbying slugfest over congressional efforts to slash hundreds of billions from the projected national debt. The state stands to lose more than $680 million in federal research funding in 2013, or nearly 9 percent of the approximately $7.7 billion it is now estimated to receive, if a bipartisan deficit reduction panel does not hammer out a deal by Nov. 23 and automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending are triggered (Jan, 11/14).