Entitlement Programs At Center Of Capitol Hill's Gathering Budget Storm

The likely and emerging partisan clash in Congress could force GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to take difficult policy positions in the fall -- just as the campaign is coming to an end. Meanwhile, this week on Capitol Hill, lawmakers will wrestle with a number of health care issues.

The New York Times: GOP Lawmakers And Romney Face A Delicate Tango
With Representative Paul D. Ryan's budget plan, Republicans have already set the agenda on the key issue that divides the two parties in an age of austerity: how to manage the federal budget and its related entitlement programs. Mr. Romney has eagerly embraced it, campaigning with Mr. Ryan by his side and calling him "bold and brilliant." But a disagreement between the parties over spending levels has paved a path for the sort of clash that led to the near shutdown of the government last year, and it could leave Mr. Romney in the position of having to choose between a loud public battle and a budget compromise with Democrats in the closing weeks of the fall campaign (Weisman and Steinhauer, 4/15).

The Associated Press: Recess Fight Over GOP Budget Preview Of Fall Races
Democrats and Republicans in Congress can't agree on a budget, but there's no disagreement about using Ryan's to highlight an election-year divide. ... The most politically dicey element is the change in Medicare, the $500 billion-a-year health insurance program for older people. Both parties are keenly aware that this group votes in high numbers and cares passionately about the program (Jackson, 4/14).

The Hill: Week Ahead: Lawmakers Tackle Expiring Health Care Policies
With multiple deadlines looming, lawmakers have plenty on their health care plate as they return from their two-week Easter recess. The House and Senate could unveil as soon as this coming week legislation updating the fees prescription drug and medical device makers pay to fund their regulators at the Food and Drug Administration. The Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee is holding a hearing Wednesday on the user fees and "how innovation helps patients and jobs" (Pecquet, 4/16).

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