KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Capitol Hill Prepares For Politically Charged Votes On Debt Limit

With the deadline just about two weeks away, lawmakers continue to struggle to reach an agreement surrounding the effort to raise the nation's borrowing limit.

The Washington Post: Congress Tees Up Crucial Votes On Debt Limit
A bipartisan effort in the Senate to allow President Obama to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years gained momentum Sunday, as leaders agreed they would have to act in the next two weeks to avert a potential default by the U.S. government (Goldfarb, 7/17).

The Associated Press: Tea Party Takes Its Turn In Debt Battle
Congressional leaders are giving tea party-backed Republican freshmen the run of the House this week with a plan to let the government borrow another $2.4 trillion - but only after big and immediate spending cuts and adoption by Congress of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget (Taylor, 7/18).

Los Angeles Times:  House Republicans Brace For Compromise On Debt
Republican leaders in the House have begun to prepare their troops for politically painful votes to raise the nation's debt limit, offering warnings and concessions to move the hard-line majority toward a compromise that would avert a federal default. … At a closed-door meeting Friday morning, GOP leaders turned to their most trusted budget expert, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to explain to rank-and-file members what many others have come to understand: A fiscal meltdown could occur if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling (Mascaro and Hennessey, 7/16).

Bloomberg: Republicans' Budget Balance Short On Details
Congressional Republicans are clear in their demand for a constitutional amendment forcing the government to balance its budget. What they're not offering is clarity on how to get there. It's politically popular to line up behind such an amendment; laying out specific cuts is less appealing. Almost all Republicans and some Democrats will vote to alter the Constitution when the issue comes up as early as this week. Almost none, including a leading co-sponsor of the Senate measure, Orrin Hatch, and Bill Flores of Texas, a co-sponsor of the House measure, say how they'd slash Medicare, eliminate federal programs or shrink education, law enforcement or national defense (Dodge and Litvan, 3/18).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Hopefuls Betting Voters Want Deep Cuts
The "cut, cap and balance" pledge has become a must-have on the resume of Republican presidential candidates - a written promise to cut federal spending immediately, cap it permanently and secure a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. … Meeting the strictures of the pledge would require a fundamental re-ordering of the federal government and an end to some of the basic compacts that it has developed with the states and citizens since World War II, budget analysts say. … That cap would track spending envisioned in the House-passed budget, drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that non-security discretionary spending would be cut by 33 percent by 2021 under the Ryan plan; Medicaid would be cut by $1.4 trillion over the coming decade and cut in half by 2030. Under the plan's transformation of Medicare to a subsidized, private health-insurance program, more costs would have to be paid by Medicare recipients (Weisman, 7/18).

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