KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Plan B Gaining Traction In Debt-Ceiling Strategy

A proposal offered earlier this week by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is emerging as a means to resolve the current stalemate in negotiations to raise the nation's debt limit. But even as this approach continues to gain momentum, it will face considerable political and procedural hurdles.

The New York Times: 'Decision Time' On Budget, Obama Tells Leaders
The president said he might summon the leaders to the White House over the weekend if there was no progress. … On Capitol Hill, leaders of both parties were focused increasingly on a proposal by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that could provide a way out of the stalemate on the debt limit. Under the McConnell proposal, the president could request $2.5 trillion of additional borrowing authority in three installments - enough to meet the government's needs through the end of next year. With each request, he would have to propose an equivalent amount of cuts in federal spending over the next 10 years. Mr. Obama reiterated his refusal to sign a stopgap measure … but left the door open to Senator McConnell's plan as a fallback option. The president told the leaders he still believed there could be a landmark deal with savings of about $2 trillion over a decade, the official said (Landler and Pear, 7/14).

The Washington Post: As White House Talks Falter, Senate Works On Agreement To Raise Debt Limit
A breakthrough in the White House talks looked unlikely, however, leaving the Senate framework as the chief option for raising the debt limit before Aug. 2, when the Treasury will be unable to pay its bills without additional borrowing authority (Montgomery and Kane, 7/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Plan B Emerges On Debt
A backup plan to cut the federal deficit and keep the U.S. government from default gained momentum Thursday even as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders paused their negotiations to determine if they can reach a deal. … The ideas face enormous political and procedural hurdles, especially in the House where conservatives are determined to keep pressing for deeper spending cuts, and even Senate leaders say they are far from finding the middle ground they seek (Lee and Hook, 7/15).

The Associated Press: Debt Face-Off Shifts To Congress, Bargain In Play
With an Aug. 2 deadline looming and no compromise jelling at the White House, President Barack Obama had to settle Friday for asking congressional leaders to take three deficit reduction options to their members to see which, if any, could win a vote in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, a proposal the White House has termed a "fallback option" was taking root in the Senate as a likely alternative to the brinkmanship that has defined negotiations to secure an increase in the government's borrowing authority (Kuhnhenn, 7/15).

USA Today: Looking For Debt Deal, Obama Outlines Cuts
Rather than continue to push for $4 trillion in savings over the next decade, Obama outlined a plan that would achieve roughly $2 trillion, almost entirely from spending reductions. That marks a major concession - one the president is likely to address at a news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. ET this morning. At the same time, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Harry Reid forged ahead with an even smaller deal of their own, one that represents a second fallback plan. It would allow Obama to raise the debt limit and create a process by which Congress would vote in the future on spending reductions. … The remainder of the package would be spending cuts and savings on interest, but not the major reductions in Medicare or Social Security that Obama had been willing to accept as part of a $4 trillion deal (Wolf and Jackson, 7/14).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Debt Limit Talks Intensify As Deadline Nears
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and Jackie Judd discuss what Democrats, Republicans and special interest groups are saying in front of the cameras and behind the scenes (7/14).

CNN (Video): Latest Debt Talks End With Not Deal; Obama Wants Progress Report
Obama will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday to discuss efforts to reach a deal on the debt ceiling and budget cuts, according to a senior administration official. No formal negotiations are planned Friday. ... With time dwindling, Democrats and Republicans remain at sharp odds over how to proceed. Obama has indicated a preference for a "grand bargain" that would save up to $4 trillion over the next decade through a combination of spending cuts, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and reforming politically popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (Sliverleib and Cohen, 7/14). 

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