Senate talks on 'fiscal cliff' moving slowly

The New York Times: G.O.P. Yields On Fiscal Point, Clearing Way For More Talks
Negotiations over a last-ditch agreement to head off large tax increases and sweeping spending cuts in the new year appeared to resume Sunday afternoon after Republican senators withdrew their demand that a deal must include a new way of calculating inflation that would lower payments to beneficiaries programs like Social Security and slow their growth. ... Talks foundered after Republicans dug in in an effort to get the largest deficit reduction deal in the time remaining, according to numerous Republican and Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations. Republicans told Democrats that they were willing to put off scheduled cuts in payments to health care providers who treat Medicare patients but that they wanted spending cuts elsewhere (Weisman and Broder, 12/30). 

The Washington Post: With No 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal In Sight, Sequestration Seems All But Certain
But even if they reach a stripped-down agreement, aides in both parties have said it would be unlikely to address the other part of the "fiscal cliff," an automatic $110 billion reduction in government spending, split evenly between military and domestic programs, that is scheduled to take effect the next day. ... With the exception of a few programs specifically spared by Congress -; including Medicaid, Medicare benefits and food stamps -; every government account would be sliced by the almost same amount. The White House has said that all domestic programs that were not specifically shielded would face an 8.2 percent cut next year. ... Air traffic controllers, courthouse security guards, National Institutes of Health cancer researchers -; all would face the same crunch (Helderman, 12/30). 

The Wall Street Journal: Over The Cliff, Spending Cuts Loom
In the mad scramble by political leaders to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Congress and the White House are focusing most of their attention on preventing tax rates from increasing on most workers, extending emergency unemployment benefits to roughly two million Americans and on preventing deep cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. But another high priority, which appears thornier to resolve, is the $110 billion in annual spending cuts that were put in place last year and are set to begin on Jan. 2, 2013, and continue for eight more years (Paletta, 12/30). 

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Puts Pressure On GOP In Cliff Talks
President Barack Obama sought to increase pressure on Congressional Republicans by attempting to hold them responsible if talks to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff collapse. Mr. Obama, in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," which was taped Saturday, cast himself as a reasonable broker prepared to make concessions, while depicting GOP leaders as unwilling to let taxes rise on the wealthiest Americans. Many in the GOP make the opposite case, blaming the budget impasse on Democrats, who are blocking any change to the nation's costly entitlement programs (Nicholas, 12/30).


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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