President Barack Obama's latest offer does not include a Republican proposal to increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on how health care spending is driving the nation's debt, while USA Today details a new poll showing the public favors the president in the fiscal talks.
The New York Times: Obama's New Offer On Fiscal Crisis Could Lead To Deal
The offer is close to a plan proposed by the speaker on Friday, and both sides expressed confidence that they were closing in on a major deficit-reduction plan that could be passed well before January, when more than a half-trillion dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts would kick in (Weisman, 12/17).
The Washington Post: Obama, Boehner Move Closer To 'Cliff' Deal
Obama laid out a counteroffer that included significant concessions on taxes, reducing the amount of new revenue he is seeking to $1.2 trillion over the next decade and limiting the hike in tax rates to households earning more than $400,000 a year. … Obama also gave ground on a key Republican demand -; applying a less-generous measure of inflation across the federal government. … In addition, Obama increased his overall offer on spending cuts. … Meanwhile, the possibility remains that the deal could get even more distasteful for Democrats, particularly if Republicans counter Obama's request for $1.2 trillion in new taxes with a demand for an additional concession on health care, such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare beneficiaries from 65 to 67 (Montgomery and Kane, 12/17).
Los Angeles Times: Boehner, Obama Meet Amid Optimism On 'Fiscal Cliff'
Boehner made a substantial shift over the weekend by offering to raise tax rates on those making more than $1 million a year, a significant change from Republican orthodoxy against higher tax rates. Aides described it as an optimistic overture, even though the White House did not accept the proposal. … By proposing the rate hike on the super wealthy, Boehner can be seen as offering a substantial compromise toward Obama, even though the offer falls short of the president's preferred approach. … At the same time, the spending cuts Boehner would extract in exchange for the new tax revenue would likely be severe -- changes to Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety net reductions that Democrats would resist (Mascaro and Hennessey, 12/17).
The Wall Street Journal: With New Offers, Fiscal-Cliff Talks Narrow
The president's offer notably didn't include a Republican proposal to increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, an idea opposed by many Democrats. And to blunt Democratic resistance to changing the formula for calculating Social Security benefits, his plan would include protections for beneficiaries of the program deemed "most vulnerable," people familiar with the talks said (Lee, Hook and Paletta, 12/17).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Softens Stance On Taxes As He And Boehner Seek A 'Fiscal Cliff' Compromise
And in a move sure to create heartburn among some congressional Democrats, Obama is proposing lower cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, employing an inflation index that would have far-reaching consequences, including pushing more people into higher income tax brackets. … In making his offer, Obama stiff-armed Republican demands to increase the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, a goal Democrats strongly reject. He also sought to contain cuts in Medicare and other health care programs to about $400 billion over 10 years, less than what Republicans want (12/18).
Politico: Obama Makes New Offer To Narrow Gap On Cliff
But questions remained over whether Boehner could sell the key points to Republicans at a pivotal meeting Tuesday. The progress is fragile, and the next 24 hours are critical as lawmakers from both parties and interest groups on all sides weigh in (Budoff Brown and Bresnahan, 12/18).