With the deadline looming, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boener, R-Ohio, traded new fiscal offers but appeared no closer to a deal. Boehner is pushing for more specifics on how Obama would cut safety net programs, while the White House continues to press for tax increases for the wealthy.
Los Angeles Times: Fiscal Talks Hobbled By New Finger-Pointing
Optimism surrounding secretive high-level budget talks faded quickly Tuesday amid a fresh round of partisan finger-pointing, reducing the chances of a resolution to the fiscal standoff by Christmas. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke to President Obama by phone late in the evening after presenting a GOP counteroffer. Republicans, meanwhile, showed further signs of political division. Top members of the party … said the GOP should accept the president's offer to raise tax rates on the top 2% of Americans in exchange for spending cuts. … But Republican negotiators continued to hold out for deeper reductions to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other safety net programs than the president has been willing to accept, contributing to the stalemate that could result in a tax increase for most Americans (Mascaro and Mason, 12/11).
The Washington Post: Obama, Boehner Trade 'Fiscal Cliff' Proposals But Appear No Closer To A Deal
Even as Boehner spokesman Michael Steel announced that a new offer had been delivered to the White House, he complained that Republicans are "still waiting" for Obama to propose serious cuts to popular health and retirement programs that are forecast to swell the national debt in coming decades (Montgomery and Kane, 12/11).
Los Angeles Times: Boehner Pushes Obama For Cuts Related To 'Fiscal Cliff'
Boehner said he remained optimistic after his private meeting over the weekend with Obama at the White House, but took the unusual move of delivering floor comments after both sides had remained mum after their secretive session. "Where are the president's spending cuts?" Boehner said as the chamber opened Tuesday. "When is the president going to get serious?" Boehner has said his party would be willing to consider new tax revenue through an overhaul of the tax code, but in exchange Republicans want steep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Social Security safety net (Mascaro, 12/11).
Politico: John Boehner: Where Are Obama's Cuts?
Speaker John Boehner tried again to shift the fiscal cliff debate from tax rates to spending cuts, saying Tuesday that the White House has yet to "identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the 'balanced approach' he promised the American people" (Sherman and Kim, 12/12).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Fiscal Cliff Talks Intensify, But With Little Apparent Progress As End-Of-Year Deadline Looms
Leading lawmakers expressed pessimism that a deal was close, despite increasing angst about a Dec. 31 deadline to stop the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and separate across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of Washington's failure to complete a deficit-reduction deal last year. … The Boehner camp again said it's up to the White House to proffer additional spending cuts to programs like Medicare. The White House countered that Republicans still need to cave on raising tax rates for the rich (12/12).
USA Today: Obama, Boehner Trade New Fiscal Cliff Offers
In an interview with ABC News, Obama said he believes Republicans will give on their opposition to raising tax rates. "I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," he said. All of the George W. Bush era tax cuts expire Dec. 31. Democrats want to extend the current rates for all but the top 2%. Meanwhile, Boehner called out the president from the House floor for stalling negotiations because Obama has not proposed enough spending cuts to appease Republicans (Page, 12/12).
Politico: Fiscal Cliff: GOP Makes Another Counteroffer
Obama sent House Republicans a counteroffer to their original proposal Monday that called for $1.4 trillion in new revenue but little movement on entitlement cuts, sources said. Obama's original revenue proposal was $1.6 trillion. The new GOP offer doesn't represent major movement -; Republicans are still offering $800 billion in revenue, which is $600 billion from the White House's position. But it's not clear what else was new in the Boehner offer to the White House (Sherman and Bresnahan, 12/11).
The New York Times: As Fiscal Talks Heat Up, Questions On Whether Boehner Can Get The Votes
On Monday, the president presented a new offer and on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner answered back as he and the president conferred by telephone. That talk came two days after a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office without staff members present -; their first solo meeting since those failed talks toward a "grand bargain" in July 2011. While neither provided details, one person familiar with the White House proposal said Mr. Obama had reduced his call for $1.6 trillion in additional revenues from the wealthy over the first 10 years to $1.4 trillion, still $600 billion higher than the Republicans' position. And another said the president also proposed that the two sides commit to working on overhauling the corporate tax code next year (Calmes and Weisman, 12/11).
In related news -
The Hill: Pelosi: Keep Medicare Age Where It Is
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed the idea of raising Medicare's eligibility age as part of a year-end deal to reduce the deficit. In an op-ed published Tuesday, the California Democrat criticized the proposal as ineffective and unfair to seniors. "Raising the Medicare age asks the most vulnerable citizens to pay more with little to show for it in terms of long-term deficit reduction or more affordable care, for seniors or anyone else," Pelosi wrote in USA Today...Pelosi's line in the sand is sure to please the Democratic base and AARP, both of which oppose raising the Medicare age. But it could put her at odds with President Obama, who was reportedly open to the idea last summer (Viebeck, 12/11).
CNN (Video): Seniors Warn Congress: Hands Off
Lisa Sylvester reports on intense lobbying by seniors against fiscal cliff tampering with Social Security, Medicare (12/11).
The Medicare NewsGroup: Fact/Fiction: Medicare Will Go Broke Or Bankrupt
The Sound Bite: Politicians continue to claim that Medicare will go "broke" or "bankrupt" in the coming years without Medicare reform. The Facts: This is fiction. Conversations on Medicare going broke or bankrupt center around the funding and expenditures under Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), and not around Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drugs) (Solana, 12/11).
This 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.