Labor, business groups step up efforts to shape 'fiscal cliff' debate over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Published on November 14, 2012 at 3:26 AM · No Comments

Some news outlets examine the impact of looming tax increases and spending cuts if a budget deal is not struck by the end of the year. Others examine the positions being staked out by powerful groups over issues such as Medicare and other entitlement programs. 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Most Of America Would Be Hit By Tax Increases And Spending Cuts From 'Fiscal Cliff'
Everyone who pays income tax -; and some who don't -;will feel it. So will doctors who accept Medicare, people who get unemployment aid, defense contractors, air traffic controllers, national park rangers and companies that do research and development. The package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" takes effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. The economy would be hit so hard that it would likely sink into recession in the first half of 2013, economists say (11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Plans Public Appeal On Deficit
The White House plans an aggressive public campaign to build support for its approach to reduce the deficit through tax increases and spending cuts, a sharp contrast to its private talks with Republicans that faltered last year. … The strategy comes as many Republicans appear to have softened their antitax rhetoric in the wake of the election, with many openly acknowledging that higher taxes will likely be part of any plan to reduce the deficit (Paletta and Hook, 11/12).

The New York Times: Labor Leaders Have Obama's Back, And Are Ready To Help
Having helped President Obama win re-election, labor leaders will meet with him on Tuesday and intend to offer their robust support for what they view as his mandate: stand tough against cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and keep pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy. … As the administration begins talks with Congressional Republicans to modify a range of tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to go into effect next year, the unions say they will rally their forces on a broader agenda, seeking to counter business and conservative groups that are pushing for cuts in social programs and tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals (Greenhouse, 11/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama To Meet With Labor Leaders About Impeding 'Fiscal Cliff,' Prospect Of Taxes On Wealthy
The president views his re-election as an affirmation of his belief that raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year is what voters want. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has expressed a willingness to raise revenues but remains opposed to boosting tax rates, pointing instead to closing tax loopholes, lowering rates and fixing entitlement programs. Both sides have voiced the potential for cooperation, but face a post-election confrontation over a series of expiring tax cuts approved during the George W. Bush presidency and tough, across-the-board spending cuts set to take place because lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reduce the federal debt (11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Labor Pressures Obama On Budget
These groups held more than 100 events last week to trumpet their success at the polls and remind voters that many Democratic candidates pledged during the campaign to push for higher taxes on upper-income earners and oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits (Paletta, 11/12).

The Washington Post: Liberal Groups Mobilize For 'Fiscal Cliff' Fight Over Social Security, Medicare
With President Obama seeking a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," liberal groups that campaigned aggressively for his reelection are mobilizing to oppose concessions they fear he could make on Medicare and Social Security. Leaders of the nation's labor unions and other liberal groups are planning Tuesday to press Obama at the White House to reject the kind of cuts in Medicare and Social Security that he has previously offered to make. On Thursday, left-leaning lawmakers and seniors groups plan to rally on Capitol Hill against any changes to entitlements (Goldfarb, 11/12).

The Washington Post: As 'Fiscal Cliff' Nears, Business Groups Jostle For Ear Of White House, Congress
Tension among the country's leading business lobbies has become more pronounced this week as competing groups jostle for attention from Capitol Hill and the White House over their favored approaches to resolving the ongoing deadlock over tax and spending policy (Hamburger, 11/12).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Obama To Meet With 12 CEOs Wednesday
The outreach by Mr. Obama is part of his attempt to court corporate support for a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan that he hopes to advance before the end of the year. Many of the CEOs have said they will only accept higher taxes if policy makers also agree to major changes to Medicare and Social Security, something Democrats haven't embraced (Paletta, 11/12).

Los Angeles Times: Group Mobilizing Young People To Push For National Debt Plan
A new group, the Can Kicks Back, aims to give Americans 18 to 32 years old a voice in the debate over tax hikes and budget cuts that loom next year if Congress and President Obama cannot agree on a deficit-reduction plan. … Part of that effort will be sending a giant mascot character in the shape of a can to college campuses to generate support, and then to Congress to highlight the concerns of young people. The group is focusing on how the debt affects the ability of people to get a job, pay for their education and raise a family, Schoenike said. To drive home the point, the group is highlighting the share of the national debt being shouldered by every American. Although the U.S. national debt officially is about $16.25 trillion, the Can Kicks Back is using a much higher figure -; $71 trillion -; which includes unfunded liabilities such as Social Security, Medicare and government pensions (Puzzanthera, 11/13).

In related news -

The Washington Post: 5 Things (Other Than The 'Fiscal Cliff') To Watch During The Lame-Duck
Lawmakers are currently scheduled to meet for just 16 days between today and the end of the year, but leaders could add more time as they work to avoid the "fiscal cliff," or the series of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January. And let's face it: After more than a year of campaigning and partisan rancor, the "fiscal cliff" and all of its policy and economic implications is set to dominate the attention of Washington in the coming weeks. Despite that, there are several other political and policy developments worth tracking in the coming weeks (O'Keefe, 11/13).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

 

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