Trouble spot in fiscal talks: The down payment

Published on December 5, 2012 at 4:50 AM · No Comments

Although there appears to be general agreement about tax code and entitlement changes that would begin next year and tally more than $1 trillion over 10 years, the initial installment of deficit reduction has become a sticking point between the White House and GOP leaders. Meanwhile, the Washington Post checks the facts on entitlement "spending cuts."

The New York Times: Initial Deficit Cuts Are Sticking Point In Negotiations
For all the growing angst over the state of negotiations to head off a fiscal crisis in January, the parties are farthest apart on a relatively small part of the overall deficit reduction program -; the down payment. President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, are in general agreement that the relevant Congressional committees must sit down next year and work out changes to the tax code and entitlement programs to save well more than $1 trillion over the next decade. But before that work begins, both men want Congress to approve a first installment on deficit reduction in the coming weeks (Weisman, 12/3).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Geithner's Fuzzy Math On Entitlement 'Spending Cuts'
Eager to rebut Republican claims that the administration was not serious about reining in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Geithner insisted the administration did have "a detailed plan of spending cuts," totaling $600 billion, in what he described as "mandatory programs" or "entitlement programs." But his language is a bit slippery. Let's explore what's going on (Kessler, 12/4).

Another report explores how changes to Medicare might affect AARP's revenues  -

The Washington Post: AARP Lobbies Against Medicare Changes That Could Hurt Its Bottom Line
As Washington debates whether to cut federal retirement programs as part of a deal to tackle the nation's debt, one of the most powerful advocates for preserving them could have millions of dollars riding on the outcome. AARP, the highly influential lobby for older Americans, is fiercely opposing any Medicare or Social Security cuts and emphasizes that it is fighting for the good of its members. But the proposals for changing Medicare also could affect AARP's bottom line (Markon, 12/3).

News outlets also offer state and local takes on the impact of going over the "cliff" -

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: AARP: Benefit Changes Could Harm New Yorkers
With the "fiscal cliff" looming, AARP is warning that changes being considered for Social Security and Medicare could harm older New Yorkers. The clock is ticking closer to the end-of-year deadline to avert the fiscal cliff, which is a combination of the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. Some economists say the combination could send the economy back into recession (12/4).

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