Meanwhile, the health law's individual mandate could fall prey to deficit reduction efforts. And, in the background, congressional appropriators face especially unique challenges this year in trying to get their work done.
The Hill: Advocates Say Super Committee Threatens Medicaid
Consumer advocates say Medicare and Medicaid are still at risk in deficit-reduction talks, despite a Republican super committee member saying he won't cut entitlement programs. Families USA noted in a blog post Friday that all six Republican members of the super committee voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal, which would convert Medicare into a sort of voucher system. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also proposed his own budget with even deeper health cuts (Baker, 8/19).
Politico Pro: GOP Eyes Mandate As A Deficit Reduction Tool
Supporters of President Barack Obama' health care law view its insurance requirement as the most effective way to expand health coverage. Republicans, however, see it as something entirely different: a possible source of savings in the upcoming super committee deficit talks. Republicans have always seen the law' individual mandate as a political weapon — a symbol of big-government overreach that they can use to fire up the GOP base and keep raising doubts about the law among independent voters. Now, they see a chance to repeal the mandate in the name of deficit reduction. House aides, who spoke on background, said the idea could arise as part of the broader negotiations in the newly appointed debt committee (Dobias, 8/22).
NPR: For Debt Panel's Becerra, No Egos While Negotiating
[Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.] has won more than 80 percent of the vote in his district, but during his career he's also faced political setbacks, arguably of his own making ... he even got on the wrong side of Pelosi, his mentor, when he complained that party leaders had too quickly abandoned the public option in the health care overhaul (Jaffe, 8/22).
Politico: Super Committee May Call For K St. Creativity
Lobby shops and their clients are fast realizing that a full frontal assault on Congress's budget-slashing super committee may not be a fruitful strategy — particularly as some committee members and senior congressional staffers suggest that K Street won't be terribly welcome at their negotiating table (Levinthal, 8/20).
The Hill: Debt-Ceiling Agreement Providing Little Help To Congressional Appropriators
This year, the House has passed six of 12 bills and moved nine through the Appropriations Committee. The Senate has passed one bill through committee, for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Aides say no decisions have been made on how to proceed, but at least one continuing resolution is inevitable. A likely target is a continuing resolution that runs through Thanksgiving. Appropriators are holding out hope that some of the bills can be done and want to spend as much of September as possible trying to pass them before bowing to a continuing resolution (Wasson, 8/21).