Obama, Boehner Gird For Talks To Avert 'Fiscal Cliff'

The two men who failed to reach a "grand bargain" to tame the national debt last year face a year-end deadline to avert automatic budget cuts. Media outlets assess the likelihood of a deal that might curb Medicare spending in exchange for revenue increases.

The Washington Post: Obama, Boehner Again Prepare To Tackle National Debt
Tuesday’s election returned to power the same men who have battled for two years over the nation’s budget problems: President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio). ... the political winds have shifted in Obama’s favor. ... In Boehner’s view, aides said, the starting point should be the deficit-reduction deal that he and Obama were close to sealing in secret talks during the summer of 2011. With Congress locked in a bitter battle over the federal debt limit, the two tentatively agreed to slice $2.4 trillion from future borrowing in part by trimming Medicare and Social Security benefits and generating $800 billion in new revenue by overhauling the tax code (Montgomery and Goldfarb, 11/8).

USA Today: Boehner Sees Short-Term Budget Fix
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he will resist any effort to make major tax or spending changes in the lame duck session of Congress beginning next week, seeking instead a short-term deal to delay the year-end "fiscal cliff." "I've never seen a lame duck Congress do big things. And as speaker I feel pretty strongly that a lame duck Congress shouldn't do big things," he said in an interview with USA TODAY. ... Boehner is proposing what he calls a short-term "bridge" that would extend all of the tax rates for one year and buy more time to overhaul the federal tax code (Davis, 11/8).

The New York Times: Congress Sees Rising Urgency On Fiscal Deal
The accelerated activity in Washington showed that members of Congress believed the election had amplified the imperative to strike a deal. Still, signs that the two sides are open to some compromise are no guarantee that they can reach an agreement after warring for two years. Many Republicans will continue to resist any proposal that can be read as increasing taxes, and many Democrats will balk at changes in entitlement programs and spending cuts (Weisman, 11/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Pressure Rises On Fiscal Crisis
The White House and Republican lawmakers faced pressure to reach a solution to the looming budget crisis after a nonpartisan agency detailed Thursday how inaction would push the U.S. economy back into recession next year, and skittish investors continued to drive stocks lower. ... Offering a framework rather than a detailed proposal could be attractive to the White House because of concerns that Republicans might reject a plan with too many details. The White House also was trying to decide whether any offer should include deficit-cutting proposals that Democrats might find unappealing, such as changes to Medicare and Social Security (Paletta, Lee and Bendavid, 11/8).

Politico: Behind Boehner's New Tone
After his secret debt negotiations last year with President Barack Obama sparked a sharp round of blowback from conservatives, his leadership and members of his House Republican Conference, Boehner has launched a carefully choreographed campaign on the high-stakes fiscal cliff talks. ... Boehner said he was prepared to raise new revenue for the government — but not increase tax rates — as long as the White House would agree to entitlement reform (Sherman, Budoff Brown and Bresnahan, 11/8).

The Associated Press: Obama Approaches 'Fiscal Cliff' Days After Victory
Obama is not expected to offer specifics immediately. His long-held position—repeatedly rejected by Republicans—is that tax rates on family income over $250,000 should jump back up to Clinton-era levels. Republicans say they're willing to consider new tax revenue but only through drafting a new tax code that lowers rates and eliminates some deductions and wasteful tax breaks. And they're insisting on cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, known as entitlement programs in Washington-speak (Taylor, 11/9).

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