The Washington Post: A 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal Is Near: Here Are The Details
All at once, a "fiscal cliff" deal seems to be coming together. ... On the spending side, the Democrats' headline concession will be accepting chained-CPI, which is to say, accepting a cut to Social Security benefits. Beyond that, the negotiators will agree to targets for spending cuts. Expect the final number here, too, to be in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, but also expect it to lack many specifics. Whether the cuts come from Medicare or Medicaid, whether they include raising the Medicare age, and many of the other contentious issues in the talks will be left up to Congress (Ezra Klein, 12/17).
The New York Times: Rumors Of A Deal
Unlike what we'd heard from Republicans before, this contains stuff that Obama can't get just by letting us go over the cliff: more revenue than he could get just from tax-cut expiration, unemployment and infrastructure too. But it has a cost, those benefit cuts. Those cuts are a very bad thing, although there will supposedly be some protection for low-income seniors. But the cuts are not nearly as bad as raising the Medicare age, for two reasons: the structure of the program remains intact, and unlike the Medicare age thing, they wouldn't be totally devastating for hundreds of thousands of people, just somewhat painful for a much larger group. Oh, and raising the Medicare age would kill people; this benefit cut, not so much (Paul Krugman, 12/17).
Los Angeles Times: To Fix The Deficit, Tax And Cut
(House Speaker John) Boehner called for cutting projected spending by $1 trillion over 10 years while raising an equal amount in new tax revenue, in part by ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $1 million or more. Obama had sought $400 billion more in tax revenue, or $1.4 trillion over 10 years. Yet even if the GOP eventually comes closer to Obama's tax proposal, lawmakers will still have to reel in spending considerably to stabilize the growing debt. The biggest problems for the budget are Medicare and Medicaid, the healthcare benefits whose costs are growing rapidly. Unless Congress finds a way to shore up those programs, the federal budget gap will only get worse in later decades (12/18).
USA Today: Fixing The Debt Is A Progressive Cause
A lot of ink has been spilled about the looming "fiscal cliff," and rightly so. Going off the cliff won't just affect the wealthy or those interested in maintaining our current levels of military spending. Instead, the vast majority of American families -– including those in the lowest tax brackets –- will see their federal tax bills rise. And the so-called "sequestration" would cut funding from many critical state-run programs that protect the most vulnerable among us, including nutrition programs for low-income women and children, education and public housing. Unemployment insurance will be cut off from the people who need it most. In short, going off the cliff is bad for everyone. But so is simply putting off the cliff (Antonio Villaraigosa and Ed Rendell, 12/17).
The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Faux Federalism
Having failed to persuade 26 states that participating in ObamaCare is a good deal, the liberals behind the law are denouncing these dissident Governors as federalist hypocrites. A few critics on the right are chiming in and arguing that the 26 are inviting worse results once the feds swoop in. So someone ought to say a word on behalf of the people who run state governments in the real world and have examined the health insurance "exchange" question in detail. They've seen enough to know that the choice to set up and run these insurance bureaucracies is not a choice at all (12/17).
New York Post: Fixing NY Medicaid
New York’s Medicaid program is now testing, on a small and limited scale, giving people financial incentives and requiring compliance in changing their behavior. The approach has promise — if done right; it’s important to keep in mind the lessons of welfare reform. When an individual insists on eating too much of the wrong food while not exercising at all, or smoking or never getting a physical checkup, he’s at serious risk of developing a chronic illness. His choice, his problem? Yes, but when that same person is enrolled in a taxpayer-funded health-insurance program like Medicaid, he also risks becoming a very expensive problem for the rest of us (Russell Sykes, 12/16).