Today’s Headlines – Sept. 14, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including stories detailing the politics stirred up by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s return to Capitol Hill, as well as reports about new poll numbers and the latest about how health issues are playing on the campaign trail.

The Wall Street Journal: Spending Package Passes In House
The legislation was necessary because Congress hasn’t passed any of the 12 spending bills required each year to fund the federal government. The six-month bill covers around a third of the federal spending. The remainder—including big-ticket programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—are renewed automatically without congressional action. House lawmakers separately on Thursday approved legislation aimed at forcing the president into coming up with a plan to avoid $110 billion in spending cuts, half to come from defense spending, that are set to be implemented early in 2013 under current law. That measure is almost certain not to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate. The administration is expected to release a spending-cut outline as early as Friday (Boles, 9/13).

The New York Times: House Republicans Welcome Back Ryan, And His Vote, On A Spending Measure
Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, returned to the House on Thursday for a hero’s welcome from adoring Republicans, jeers from opposition Democrats and a mission that was as painful as it was politically necessary: to give his blessing to legislation financing the government into next year at a level higher than the one set in his own budget. Democrats joined in the Ryan welcome in another way as well. Representative Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, thanked him for making his Medicare overhaul a centerpiece of the election. The House Democratic leadership released a mocking “Welcome Back, Mr. Ryan” video rapping him for boasting about securing automatic spending cuts that he now denounces and pressing for an overhaul that would offer future retirees a fixed subsidy to buy health insurance rather than a guaranteed government program (Weisman, 9/13).

For more headlines …

The Washington Post: GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan Makes Low-Key Return To Capitol Hill
Ryan’s return should have been a moment of celebration. By selecting the House Budget Committee chairman as his running mate, Romney affirmed the House Republicans as keepers of the GOP idea. But, in the risk-averse environment of a campaign, there were also good reasons for Ryan and his colleagues to avoid one another. A close association with Ryan could make trouble for some members in tight reelection campaigns. The cornerstone of Ryan’s budget proposals, a plan to restructure Medicare for future recipients, is widely unpopular. And a close association with congressional Republicans might not be helpful for Ryan, either. In one late August poll, two-thirds of respondents disapproved of their job performance (Sonmez and Fahrenthold, 9/13).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ryan Votes For Spending Bill That Is $19 Billion Higher than Budget Outline He Authored
The House chamber later erupted in a loud cheer — mostly from the Republican side — when Ryan entered the hall. Ryan held court in the rear of the chamber as back-slapping colleagues surrounded him. … Democrats, meanwhile, worked to highlight components of Ryan’s budget proposals that would fundamentally change seniors’ health care and young voters’ education options. Democrats, including Obama’s re-election campaign, have constantly linked Romney’s presidential campaign with the Ryan-proposed cuts (9/13).

The New York Times: Biden Hammers GOP Ticket’s Domestic Policies
Mr. Biden attacked Mr. Ryan in particular, tying details from his House budget plan to Mitt Romney as he criticized the Republicans on education, tax cuts for the wealthy, Medicare and a refusal to compromise on debt reduction. Mr. Ryan’s addition to the Republican ticket has raised the pressure on President Obama in Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan’s home state, whose rightward tilt since 2010 already assured that it would not be the comfortable win Mr. Obama enjoyed four years ago. On Wednesday, Mr. Obama unveiled his first television advertisements in the state (Gabriel, 9/13).

Politico: Obama: Best Medicare Solution Is ‘Smarter’ Health Care
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the right way to cut Medicare spending is by making health care “smarter” — not by shifting costs to seniors, as he claims the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Medicare plan would do. Campaigning in Golden, Colo., Obama said the best way to get Medicare savings is to cut out wasteful health care spending. In a more efficient health care system, “instead of five tests you get one test, and it’s emailed everywhere,” Obama said (Nather, 9/13).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Obama, Ryan Plan To Address AARP
Questions about Medicare and Social Security will be front and center in the presidential campaign next week when President Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan address the senior group AARP in back to back sessions on Sept. 21. Mr. Obama will speak via satellite, the group said (Meckler, 9/13).

USA Today: Obama’s Lead Poses Test For Romney
In the week after the political conventions ended, President Obama has opened the most significant, sustained lead in the daily Gallup Poll since Mitt Romney emerged as the Republican nominee last spring (Page, 9/14).

Politico: NBC/WSJ Poll: Obama Leads In Florida, Virginia, Ohio
The latest NBC/WSJ/Marist swing state surveys of Ohio, Florida and Virginia do not hold good news for Mitt Romney following the two weeks of party conventions. President Obama leads Ohio, a crucial battleground, by seven points, according to the surveys. He leads by five points in the other two. And the undecideds are few (Haberman, 9/13).

The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: Romney’s Medicare Remarks: Would He Pass costs On To Seniors Or Not?
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney faced questions about his policy proposals during an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”… The Ryan plan would eventually cap government payments toward Medicare and provide future generations of seniors with premium-support payments …  to purchase coverage through traditional Medicare or on the private market. Gregory asked Romney: “If competitive bidding in Medicare fails to bring down prices, you have a choice of either passing that cost on to seniors or blowing up the deficit. What would you do?” … Romney pointed to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D as proof that competitive bidding works to bring down costs. Let’s look at how those entitlement programs impact federal spending and determine how much they really compare to the Ryan plan (Hicks, 9/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Doctor, Hospital Deals Probed
California’s attorney general has launched a broad investigation into whether growing consolidation among hospitals and doctor groups is pushing up the price of medical care, reflecting increasing scrutiny by antitrust regulators of medical-provider deals (Mathews, 9/13).

Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune: Chicago Teachers, School District Seem Closer To Ending Strike
Under the latest deal offered by Chicago Public Schools, evaluations of tenured teachers during the first year could not result in dismissal; later evaluations could be appealed; and health insurance rates would hold steady if the union agreed to take part in a wellness program (Doyle, Delgado and Hood, 9/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. AG Warns Health Board It Might Have To Hire Outside Counsel If It Ignores His Advice Again
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has told the Virginia Board of Health that it might have to hire outside counsel if it again ignores his advice on abortion clinic regulations and gets sued (9/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Cities’ Revenue Keeps Shrinking
The skyrocketing costs of pensions and health care are also taking a toll on cities. Among the 324 cities surveyed, 77% said pension costs increased in 2012 from the previous year, and 81% said the same of health-care costs (Vara, 9/13).

The Wall Street Journal: New York City Bans Sale Of Big Sugary Beverages
The New York City Board of Health on Thursday approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial proposal to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in restaurants and other venues, a sweeping initiative that backers hope will reduce obesity and critics decry as government run amok (Saul, 9/13).

Los Angeles Times: Health Net Faces Suit Over Refusals To Cover Treatments
Robert Mendoza of Monrovia says he had to come up with about $30,000 last year to pay for a cancer surgery that his insurer, Health Net Inc., refused to cover because it wasn’t considered “medically necessary” (Terhune, 9/13).