Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's the Budget Deficit, Stupid: President Obama To Hold Talks, Medicare Cuts Very Possible

There seems to be no other issue before us, and it's a critical one, made more complex by the relentless demands that Medicare (and Medicaid) be cut significantly.

President Obama to Hold Key Talks

"President Obama invited Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to the White House for face-to-face meetings on the budget Thursday.  'It's my hope,' Obama told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, 'that everybody's going to leave their ultimatums at the door, that we'll all leave our political rhetoric at the door, and we're all going to do what's best for our economy and do what's best for our people.'"

So far, hopes like that have been fruitless, and the President has made too many compromises, as far as many of his most progressive supporters are concerned.  In addition, many Democrats are cautioning that if he goes too far, they will not go along with a budget deal.  It would be more difficult for us as observers to make judgments if the Republicans were not stuck in an extreme Conservative ideology, if they acted as if they wanted to do what's best for the American people.  Alas, they raise perhaps the toughest domestic issue America faces but do nothing of substance to address it.

Medicare Cuts On The Table

There seem to be more reports that Medicare and Medicaid cuts will be offered by President Obama in the budget talks.  "While CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that there are currently no talks scheduled between congressional Republicans and the White House to discuss the deal, negotiators appear to be working on a proposal that would cut funds from Medicare and Medicaid without majorly overhauling them or imposing direct new costs on beneficiaries."

"'The full and faith credit of the most important and the largest and most prosperous economy in the world is important,' [Mass. Gov. Deval] Patrick told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.  'And the notion [of] playing brinksmanship with it, as some in the hard right seem to want to do in Washington, is irresponsible.'"

Negotiations generally result in compromise -- both parties get something and give up something.  It appears that the President will be offering the best deal he can, and it will be up to the Conservative Republicans to make a reasonable offer back.  So far it's been negotiation without compromise.  (I'd say it's been negotiation with posturing.)  Now, it's time for the Republicans to compromise.  After all, they won the big tax cuts for their wealthiest supporters.  How about a little health care for the aged, disabled, low income workers, and poor?

Conversation: Today's Budget Talks

"Democrats, Republicans Stake Out Positions On Debt Limit" is the topic.  "Jackie Judd and KHN's Mary Agnes Carey discuss what congressional leaders said -- and what they meant -- about Thursday's budget discussions at the White House and how they might affect health care programs."  "The high-stakes talks between Congress and the White House about spending and the debt limit resume on Thursday.  President Obama -- who initiated this summit -- asked Congressional leaders to leave their ultimatums at the door.  As always, our focus is on how these talks may impact health care programs."  Listen to Health On The Hill or read the transcript.


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