Thursday, October 27, 2011

Joint Committee: Breakthrough Possible & Discretionary Spending, Perry Persists on Medicare

Democrats Propose BIG Settlement

ONE:  "Jackie Judd [of Kaiser Health News] speaks with Politico Pro's Matt DoBias about the super committee's public hearing Wednesday when it heard from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf.  Democrats on the panel are near a $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion proposal to cut the deficit that includes about $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, though what the specific cuts might entail is still a bit of a mystery."

TWO:  "Democrats are proposing $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in measures to reduce the budget deficit, including revenue increases and significant cuts to Medicare, congressional aides told Reuters." [Reuters article]

"According to congressional sources, the plan includes a roughly equal mix of spending cuts and revenue increases; between $200 billion and $300 billion in new economic stimulus spending that would be paid for with lower interest payments from reducing deficits; and around $400 billion in Medicare savings, with half coming in benefit cuts and the other half in cuts to healthcare providers."

Sounds like a bold proposal, a grand plan, but I'm worried about the specifics of the Medicare benefit cuts, if this is true.  There likely will be other issues, too.  It also sounds like a tried and true political maneuver -- send up a trial balloon, especially if it sounds reasonable or has a little something for almost everyone, and monitor the reaction.  It's certainly too early for us to weigh in.  And, it might be another political move -- co-opt your opponent by appearing to offer reasonable suggestions that they will shoot down -- entirely likely in these circumstances (although I have this little bit of hope), since the Conservative Republicans have yet to blink.

Defense Is Majority of Discretionary Spending

Dr. Doug Elmendorf, Director, Congressional Budget Office, Washington, DC, at Wednesday's hearing before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:  "Discretionary outlays -- the part of federal spending that lawmakers generally control through annual appropriation acts -- totaled about $1.35 trillion in 2011, or close to 40 percent of federal outlays.  Slightly more than half of that spending was for defense.  [emphasis added]"

"The remainder went for a wide variety of government programs and activities, with the largest amounts spent for education, training, employment, and social services; transportation; income security (mostly housing and nutrition assistance); veterans’ benefits (primarily for health care); health-related research and public health; international affairs; and the administration of justice."

From the CBO:  Discretionary Spending.

Perry Still Out to Get Medicare

"Rick Perry’s new economic plan calls for significant changes to the country’s health care programs, a la Paul Ryan, including raising the Medicare eligibility age and potentially pushing seniors out of the government health care program and into the private health insurance market.  The Texas governor also reiterates his proposal to transform the current federal matching rate states receive for Medicaid into a pre-established block grant that does not keep up with actual health care costs."

"Perry touted his 'spending reduction' during an appearance on Fox News Business last night, stressing that while he’s willing to significantly cut the nation’s safety net programs, he won’t limit military spending."

Obviously, this position on Medicare no longer is news, ... and one would expect him to support military funding.  However, we do need to be reminded that Gov. Perry mostly sticks to his positions and is predictable.  If he were elected President, he'd likely do just as he says.  Fortunately, his polling numbers are way down.

For Your Information

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


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