Viewpoints: Disputing Obama's and GOP's commitment to cutting spending and avoiding fiscal cliff

Published on December 4, 2012 at 1:08 AM · No Comments

The Wall Street Journal: An Entitlement Reform Guide
President Obama has said he wants to reform entitlements eventually, someday, after Republicans raise taxes. Republicans want the President to sign on to serious reform now as part of any deal, since AARP and the left will kill anything that isn't passed immediately. Given the political difficulty of reforming entitlements, Republicans are right to try to get Mr. Obama's fingerprints on such a deal this year (12/2).

The Washington Post: An Achievable Solution To Getting Off The 'Cliff'
It is legitimate for the president to hold out for as high a revenue target as possible. But that will also require him to proffer more in the way of entitlement reforms than many in his party will be happy to accept. ... During his negotiations with Mr. Boehner, the president also agreed to increase the eligibility age for Medicare beneficiaries from 65 to 67 and to change the way Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, as well as other programs, are calculated. If these offers are no longer on the table, Mr. Obama should explain why and come up with cost-saving alternatives (11/30).

The New York Times: The Full McConnell
In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mitch McConnell finally mentioned a few sort-of specifics about what spending cuts the GOP wants: raising the Medicare age, charging higher premiums to affluent Medicare recipients, and changing the price indexing of Social Security. But how much does all this amount to? ... So, if we take all of McConnell's ideas together, we get a bit more than $300 billion. ... This is pathetic – and these people are definitely not serious (Paul Krugman, 12/2). 

The Washington Post: Who's Not Bargaining In Good Faith? 
Supporting retirees is now the federal government's main activity. There's a huge redistribution from young to old -; a redistribution that will be made worse if retiree programs are largely excluded from deficit reduction. ... [In fiscal 2012] $469 billion for Medicare (insurance for the 65 and over population) and $251 billion for Medicaid (insurance for the poor -; two-thirds goes for long-term care for the aged and disabled) (Robert J. Samuelson, 12/2).

The Washington Post: Why Sane Bargaining Looks Strange
An entirely new political narrative is taking shape before our eyes, yet many in Washington are still stuck in the old one. President Obama's victory blew up the framework created by the 2010 elections, which forced him to play defense. Now, he finally has room to move. … Republicans claim they are fighting for cuts in entitlement programs, particularly Medicare. ... So far, all we have are words. Obama has outlined $400 billion in savings from Medicare. If this isn't enough, the GOP's negotiators should tell us how to find more (E.J. Dionne Jr., 12/2).

Los Angeles Times: Cut Medicare and Social Security? What's the rush?
Because economic projections for a year or two from now, let alone 20 or 70 years, are useless, it's best to resist being pressured to act now on 'entitlements' (Michael Hiltzik, 12/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Time To Call The President's Budget Bluff
Flush with the adrenaline rush of his election victory, President Obama insists that Congress must now agree not only to raise taxes on the "rich," but also to adopt his previously ignored full budget. ... He says that he will consider Medicare cuts and tax reform in the future, maybe. On the other hand, Mr. Obama says reductions in ObamaCare spending are out of the question, and Congress must now agree to at least $50 billion in new stimulus spending next year (Keith Hennessey, 12/2).

The Wall Street Journal: The Crisis of American Self-Government
Harvey Mansfield, Harvard's 'pet dissenter,' on the 2012 election, the real cost of entitlements, and why he sees reason for hope ... The welfare state's size isn't what makes it so stifling, Mr. Mansfield says. "What makes government dangerous to the common good is guaranteed entitlements, so that you can never question what expenses have been or will be incurred"  (Sohrab Amari, 11/30).

The Washington Post: Saving Taxpayer Money On Tricare
We refer to the Senate Armed Services Committee's refusal to accept an administration proposal to trim Tricare, the military health-care program for which 9.7 million active and retired military personnel and family members are eligible. Obviously, those who serve or served their country deserve generous health benefits. But Tricare goes well beyond that (12/2).

The New York Times: Promises On AIDS Are Not Enough
Experts know how to control the global spread of the AIDS virus. What's missing is enough money and political will to apply proven tactics widely enough to change the course of the epidemic (12/2). 

McClatchy: Don't Cut HIV/AIDS Budget
Seven people -; three women and four men -; thought it was necessary to remove all their clothing and stand before cameras and strangers in U.S. House Speaker John Boehner's office Tuesday to bring attention to potential cuts to HIV/AIDS funding and other federal programs. They obviously thought their radical actions were needed to show Boehner and other politicians that when budgets are sliced, people are hurt (Marlene Davis, 12/2).

The Washington Post: In The VA System, The Future Of Primary Health Care
My first patient in medical school was a 25-year-old Iraq war vet from a small farming town in Idaho. ... I had 30 minutes with him, and my attending physician had just 15. We were already running late. But my attending calmly introduced our team's social worker and psychologist. ... This multifaceted and coordinated approach to treatment -; all of it at minimal or no cost for veterans at the VA -; is rarely practiced in other American hospitals and clinics (Dr. Yogesh Khanal, 12/1).

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