GOP, Dems signal willingness to work for accord on taxes, entitlements

The Wall Street Journal: First Talks Bring Hope Of Broad Budget Deal
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders agreed Friday to move quickly on negotiations to avert a year-end fiscal crisis that has put markets on edge. ... Leaders from both parties and aides to Mr. Obama said they agreed to make concessions to achieve a deal. For Democrats, that included a willingness to curb entitlement programs, such as Medicare. For Republicans that meant a willingness to raise tax revenue. The question for each side, however, is how (Lee, Hook and Paletta, 11/16).

The New York Times: At Bipartisan Budget Meeting, Familiar Hurdles But A New Attitude
Both sides indicated after the 70-minute White House meeting that their goal is a two-step compromise, since they have little time to work before the end of the year. ... As tentatively envisioned, a compromise would provide an immediate down payment of at least $50 billion to reduce this year's projected deficit, in lieu of the automatic measures that would hurt the economy by their size and suddenness, economists say. Second, it would define a framework for negotiating a long-term "grand bargain" in 2013 to shave annual deficits by perhaps $4 trillion over the first decade. The framework would have separate goals for raising revenues and cutting the two types of federal spending: so-called discretionary financing that Congress sets annually for most programs, domestic and military; and entitlement spending, chiefly for Medicare and Medicaid, which by their growth in an aging population are driving projections of mounting debt (Calmes and Weisman, 11/16).

The Washington Post: Both Sides Appear Upbeat On Opening Round Of 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks
After a brutally divisive presidential campaign and two years of acrimony over the federal budget, the nation's leaders joined hands Friday and pledged fast and far-reaching action to tame the public debt and avoid economy-shaking tax hikes set to hit in January. ... Since Nov. 6, when Obama won reelection and Democrats made gains in the House and Senate on a pledge to make the rich "pay their fair share," Republicans have backed down from the fight. On Friday, (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell and (House Speaker John) Boehner acknowledged the need for fresh revenue to restrain a public debt that has swollen to dangerous levels -; as long as Democrats agree to tackle the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid, the biggest drivers of future borrowing (Montgomery and Goldfarb, 11/16).

The Hill: Ayotte: No Higher Tax Rates In 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal
A deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" should include entitlement reforms as well as new revenues -; but not higher tax rates -; Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in the GOP's weekly address. Republicans have warmed to the idea of new revenues since President Obama's reelection, but lawmakers are still divided over whether to raise tax rates on the wealthy or find money elsewhere (Baker, 11/17).

The Hill: Obama: Only Two Paths Available On 'Fiscal Cliff'
During his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama warned Republicans that there are only two possible outcomes for negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff." He said that either they agree to allow tax breaks to expire for the top two percent of American earners, or taxes will go up for everyone (Sasso, 11/17).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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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