Partisan Differences Persist On Taxes And Medicare, Other Entitlement Programs

Meanwhile, news outlets report that some Senate Republicans are working on a back-up plan that would cancel certain tax increases scheduled to take effect next year for most Americans.

The New York Times: With Gap Wide And Time Short, Obama And Boehner Meet
With time running short to work out a deal to avert a year-end fiscal crisis, President Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner to the White House on Thursday evening to try to move talks forward even as pessimism mounted that a broad deal could be struck that bridges the substantial gap between the parties on taxes and entitlements like Medicare (Weisman and Calmes, 12/13).

Los Angeles Times: Signs Of Drift In 'Fiscal Talks'
Earlier in the day, a top Senate Democrat said increasing the Medicare eligibility age was off the table — an important stance to liberal Democrats. Publicly, the two sides appear to be drifting apart as Boehner, in a feisty moment during a morning news conference at the Capitol, insisted that spending cuts deeper than the president has proposed must be part of the deal. … But recent polls on how to deal with the "fiscal cliff," the automatic year-end tax increases and spending cuts, have emboldened Democrats, who see no reason to budge. The results show Americans favor the president's position that taxes should go up on the top 2% of Americans (Mascaro and Mason, 12/13).

The Washington Post: Obama, Boehner Meet On 'Fiscal Cliff,' But No Deal Is Reached
After the 50-minute session in the Oval Office, aides to both men described the meeting as a frank exchange and said the lines of communication remained open. But Boehner prepared to return to Ohio for the weekend, with no further negotiations on his schedule. … Senior Senate Republicans, meanwhile, were at work on a fallback plan that would not significantly restrain the national debt but would at least avert widespread economic damage by canceling tax increases scheduled to take effect next year for the vast majority of Americans (Montgomery and Kane, 12/13).

NPR: Obama And Boehner Meet At White House; Session Ends Without Deal
The president has called for $1.4 trillion in revenue over the next decade, which would include higher taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers as well as $400 billion in spending cuts. The speaker has put forth a plan that includes $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the same period, as well as $800 billion in new revenue — much of it derived from restructuring the existing tax code. This afternoon meeting between President Obama and Speaker Boehner came on the same day the Pew Research Center released a new national poll that gauged Americans' views on the fiscal cliff and the efforts to avoid it (Chappell, 12/13).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: 'Fiscal Cliff’ Talks Eye Narrow Bargain To Raise Some Tax Rates, Other Issues Would Be Put Off
Hopes dimming for a wide-ranging bargain, the White House and many congressional Republicans are setting their sights on a more modest deal that would extend current tax rates for most Americans, raise rates for top earners and leave other, vexing issues for the new year (12/13).

National Journal: Will Health Coverage For Older, Sicker Patients Become A Target For Cuts?
As lawmakers search for ways to rein in chronic budget deficits, health coverage for people who are both old enough to qualify for Medicare and poor enough to receive Medicaid might end up as a target for cuts. These patients, who are known as dual eligibles, are costly to cover and their care is often poorly coordinated. Because of that, many budget cutters are convinced there are ways to make their coverage more efficient, which would save the government money (Mershon, 12/14).

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