White House meeting kicks off 'fiscal cliff' negotiations

News outlets set the scene for President Barack Obama's meeting today with lawmakers. Both sides say they want a deal, but privately, some Democrats acknowledge they would rather go over the cliff than accept a deal that raised too few taxes while cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Some Republicans feel that way about tax increases.

Politico: Opening Gambit On Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
After months of talking about the fiscal cliff publicly, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans finally expect to get down to business privately on Friday. Sort of (Budoff Brown and Sherman, 11/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Analysis: Both Sides Talk Compromise On Fiscal Cliff, Without Significant New Concessions Yet
When President Barack Obama greets congressional leaders at the White House on Friday, an elaborate set of postelection rituals will be complete. Yet divided government's ability to attack the nation's economic woes is no clearer now than it has been for months. In talks that came close to a deal in 2011, Obama said he was willing to make significant cuts in the growth of benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, infuriating liberals. Boehner spoke of as much as $800 billion in new revenue, angering conservatives. The talks eventually collapsed (11/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama On Tricky Path In Fiscal Cliff Negotiations With Congressional Leaders
President Barack Obama is kicking off budget dealings with congressional leaders with new leverage from last week's big win, but he confronts a decidedly tricky path to avoiding a market-rattling "fiscal cliff" that could imperil a still-fragile economy. Obama's GOP rivals promise greater flexibility on new tax revenues, but Democrats face pressure from liberal interest groups urging the president to take a hard line and avoid cutting big benefit programs like Medicare and food stamps. It's up to Obama to navigate the course toward an agreement (11/16).

The New York Times: Demystifying The Fiscal Impasse That Is Vexing Washington
Well, it's complicated -; the so-called cliff, that is. And most solutions are politically painful. … Q. What spending would be cut? A. An emergency unemployment-compensation program is expiring, which would save $26 billion but end payments to millions of Americans who remain jobless and have exhausted state benefits. Medicare payments to doctors would be reduced 27 percent, or $11 billion, because this year Congress has not passed the usual so-called "doc fix" to block the cuts, which otherwise are required by a 1990s cost-control law (Calmes, 11/15).

The New York Times: Senate 'Gang Of 8' Says This Isn't Its Moment In Deficit Talks
After years of wrangling, members of the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight are ratcheting back expectations for a deficit reduction breakthrough and now say the best they can probably do is offer ideas for the one fiscal negotiation that will truly matter: talks between President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner that begin in earnest on Friday. … Both sides insist they want a deal before January, but a rising chorus of voices, especially Democrats, say they would rather go over the cliff than accept a deal that raised too few taxes while extracting too many cuts, especially to Medicare and Medicaid. The search for a deal before January is off to a slow start. Rob Nabors, the president's chief liaison to Congress, came to the Capitol early this week to meet with Mr. Boehner's chief of staff, Mike Sommers. But little groundwork was done ahead of Friday's meeting (Weisman, 11/15).

A California poll offers a snapshot of public opinion related to the deficit negotiations -

Los Angeles Times: California Backs A 'Fiscal Cliff' Compromise – Sort Of, Poll Says
But things foundered on the details. When Democrats were asked whether cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits should be offered to get Republican agreement on some tax hikes, or whether all reductions were off the table, they strongly opposed any benefit cuts. When Republicans were asked whether some revenue hikes should be accepted to get Democrats to agree to benefit cuts, they just as firmly opposed any tax increases (Decker, 11/15).

California Healthline: Fiscal Cliff, Deals To Avoid It Worry Health Advocates
While they're concerned about what might happen if the country goes off a fiscal cliff, some California health care advocates worry more about bargains that might be struck to prevent the plunge. … The potential effects of sequestration on California's health care system are hard to measure as a whole, but according to a few predictions about specific parts, the effects could be significant. According to an analysis from the American Hospital Association, 500,000 health care jobs would be eliminated nationwide within a year and another 266,000 would be gone by 2021 if sequestration takes effect. Job losses would hit hardest in California, Florida and Texas, according to AHA. Most of the jobs would disappear from hospitals, followed by nursing facilities, physician offices and medical laboratories. According to a study from George Mason University, California will lose more than 225,000 jobs in the first year -- about 135,000 of them related to the defense industry and about 90,000 unrelated to defense, including health care (Lauer, 11/15).

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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