Why The Super Committee Struck Out
From Kaiser Health News: "Politico Pro’s Matt DoBias and KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey examine what led to the super committee’s failure to cut a deal and discuss what it means for hopes of a permanent 'doc fix.'" "And basically it came down to this: The same old bugaboo that has hindered other deficit-reduction efforts, and that is that Republicans said that Democrats really weren’t willing to move on entitlement programs, and Democrats in return said Republicans weren’t really willing to move on new tax revenues." MUST LISTENING.
Next: Mandatory Budget Cuts
Health Programs Facing Cutbacks After Super Committee’s Failure. Also from Kaiser Health News. "The failure of the congressional super committee could mean automatic budget cuts totaling billions of dollars for everything from Medicare to biomedical research, starting in 2013. But some health care interests stand to fare better than others." "Two major health entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid, have protections under the law that set up the super committee. Automatic cuts would not affect Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and Medicare spending would be cut by 2 percent -- all from payments to hospitals and other care providers." A very helpful review.
GOP Sour Grapes
"Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) faults the Democrats’ refusal to accept partial Medicare privatization for the super committee’s inability to come up with a bipartisan plan to lower spending in today’s Wall Street Journal. He writes, 'Democrats on the committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president’s health law was off the table' and [he] pretends that the spending in the Affordable Care Act added to the deficit (it actually reduces it)."
"Democrats, for their part, offered rather substantial concessions on Medicare spending. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued, the Democrats’ $3 trillion deficit proposal to the super committee 'stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate’s ‘Gang of Six,’ and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission.'"
Remember Ryan's Plan to Repeal Medicare
"If you’re having a hard time buying that one party was more reasonable than another in the Super Committee negotiations, read Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s obituary for the panel in the Wall Street Journal." "It explains why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued such a blistering statement after the Committee’s demise. 'Republicans relentlessly sought to end Medicare as we know it by privatizing the program and putting seniors and future generations at the mercy of insurance companies,' he said."
"Both the GOP budget, authored by Paul Ryan, and the Rivlin-Domenici plan are fundamental overhauls of the health system for the elderly. Ryan’s plan phases out traditional Medicare altogether, and replaces it with subsidized private insurance. Rivlin-Domenici partially privatizes the program, while leaving traditional Medicare in place as an option for seniors -- but it also creates incentives for people to switch into the new private system."
"So much for that idea. Mitt Romney is rapidly walking back a proposal to partially privatize VA care after a wave of criticism from Democrats and veterans groups. 'I have no proposal of that nature,' Romney told the Nashua Telegraph on Monday. 'We had a group of veterans and said, ‘tell me about the quality of your care.’ Some were concerned about the quality of their health care.'"
Of course, Mr. Romney mis-characterizes his own comments. Seems that he just can't speak plainly in the first place, so he frequently needs to mis-clarify his own remarks. That's what gives him his well-earned reputation as a flip-flopper. He fears saying the wrong thing, so he very carefully and vaguely makes a seemingly off-handed remark.
Norquist's Heavy Vote
"One of major 'sticking divides,' as Democratic co-chair Sen. Patty Murray (WA) noted, has been Republicans refusal to consider a widely supported tax increase on America’s wealthy. This intransigence is largely motivated by the shadowy influence of lobbyist Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, who threatens to serve any Republican who breaks his anti-tax pledge with electoral defeat. Today on CNN, super committee member Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) noted that Norquist’s handcuffs on his GOP colleagues essentially makes him the '13th member of this committee without being there.'"
Just like in the General Election, money buys votes in the Joint Committee. It's clear that any moderation on the part of the Republicans, who are completely stymied by strict Conservatives, would not be tolerated. Threats were made, and we would expect that they would be carried out.
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