Thursday, April 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

A big disconnect as ‘fiscal cliff’ clock ticks

By
From page A7 | November 28, 2012 | 1 Comment

WASHINGTON — Republicans’ newfound willingness to consider tax increases to avert the “fiscal cliff” comes with a significant caveat: larger cuts than Democrats seem willing to consider to benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the president’s health care overhaul.

The disconnect on benefit programs, coupled with an impasse between Republicans and the White House over raising tax rates on upper-bracket earners, paints a bleak picture as the clock ticks toward a year-end fiscal debacle of automatic spending increases and harsh cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Democrats emboldened by the election are moving in the opposite direction from the GOP on curbing spending, refusing to look at cuts that were on the bargaining table just last year. Those include any changes to Social Security, even though President Barack Obama was willing back then to consider cuts in future benefits through lower cost-of-living increases. Obama also considered raising the eligibility age for Medicare, an idea that most Democrats oppose.

“I haven’t seen any suggestions on what they’re going to do on spending,” a frustrated Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Tuesday. “There’s a certain cockiness that I’ve seen that is really astounding to me since we’re basically in the same position we were before.”

Well, says Obama’s most powerful ally on Capitol Hill, the Democrats are willing to tackle spending on entitlement programs if Republicans agree to raise income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans — a nonstarter with Republicans still in control of the House.

“We hope that they can agree to the tax revenue that we’re talking about, and that is rate increases, and as the president’s said on a number of occasions, we’ll be happy to deal with entitlements,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday.

But Reid speaks only in the most general terms, wary of publicly embracing specific ideas like boosting Medicare premiums or raising the program’s eligibility age.

At the White House, Obama met with more than a dozen small business owners. Participants described the hour-long meeting as a listening session for Obama, with the business owners urging him to reach an agreement.

“They had one message for the president, which is they need certainty. Please get this deal done as soon as possible. They very much want consumers out there knowing that they’re going to have money in their pockets to spend. That’s why it’s so important to pass the extension of the tax cuts for 98 percent of consumers, 97 percent of all small businesses,” said Small Business Administration head Karen Mills.

Obama hits the road on Friday, visiting a Pennsylvania toy factory and broadcasting his case to extend current tax rates for all but those families making more than $250,000 a year.

Private White House negotiations with top aides to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others are cloaked in secrecy, with no evidence of headway.

“There’s been little progress with the Republicans, which is a disappointment to me,” Reid, a key negotiator, told reporters on Tuesday. “They talked some happy talk about doing revenues, but we only have a couple weeks to get something done. So we have to get away from the happy talk and start talking about specific things.”

Republicans say it’s Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill who are holding back, and they point to a balance of power in official Washington that is little changed by the president’s re-election. Republicans still control the House, despite losing seats in the election. Democrats control the Senate.

“Democrats in Congress have downplayed the danger of going over the cliff and continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement to reduce the deficit,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Just last year, Obama and top Democrats were willing during budget negotiations with Republicans to take politically risky steps such as reducing the annual inflation adjustment to Social Security retirement payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which provides health care coverage to the elderly.

Now, with new leverage from Obama’s election victory and a playing field for negotiations that is more favorable to Democrats than during the talks of the summer of 2011, Democrats are taking a harder line, ruling out any moves on Social Security and all but dismissing ideas like raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65.

“The election spoke very strongly about the fact that the American people don’t want to cut these programs that actually really sustain the middle class in America and allow people to become part of the middle class,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“I think they feel somewhat emboldened by the election,” said GOP Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. “How could you not when your president is re-elected after running straight years of trillion dollar-plus deficits?”

Indeed, Obama could be in position to blame Republicans if an impasse results in the government going over the fiscal cliff. Democrats already are portraying GOP lawmakers as hostage-takers willing to let tax rates rise on everyone if lower Bush-era tax rates are not extended for the top 2 percent to 3 percent of earners — those with incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for joint filers.

“One thing Republicans have to realize — we’re in much better shape in January,” said Harkin, referring to a time when taxes would have already risen and Democrats would be offering to cut taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans. “Fiscal cliff? I don’t care.”

Obama’s opening position in the negotiations calls for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over the coming decade, balanced by just $340 billion in cuts to rapidly growing health care programs, generally taken from health care providers instead of beneficiaries. That balance would have to change for Republicans to sign onto any agreement.

Given the crunch of time and the complexity of issues such as tax reform and wringing savings from programs like Medicare, negotiators are working on a two-track process: an initial “down payment” of deficit cuts next month, coupled with work next year on overhauling the tax code and curbing entitlement programs.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a leading Senate liberal and a member of Obama’s special 2010 deficit panel — which drafted a bold deficit reduction plan blending painful entitlement cuts with $2 trillion in higher tax revenues — weighed in with a demand that any short-term down payment avoid politically sensitive safety net programs.

“Progressives should be willing to talk about ways to ensure the long-term viability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but those conversations should not be part of a plan to avert the fiscal cliff,” Durbin said in a speech at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank in Washington.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Tom ChalkNovember 28, 2012 - 8:42 am

    Reading this article inspires me to say to the GOP and the Dems: "A pox on both your houses!"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Huge jump in Solano median home price

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Supervisor candidates square off at forum

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Carli takes oath, now Vacaville’s 14th police chief

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Solano DA hosts workshop to fight human trafficking

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suisun water rates won’t rise this year

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

Kaiser area head Villalobos to leave for SoCal

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Donate a car, help build a house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield town hall on crime delayed

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Railway museum offers wine-tasting rides

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Travis trustee takes back blast at radio duo

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Drugs topic of cardiac class

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Fairfield police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun Police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for April 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Armed robber was never told to report to prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Lost sea lion in California found mile from water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Body of California man who jumped into river found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California delays decision on protecting gray wolf

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Court rules for environmentalists in water fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Governor calls special session on rainy day fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Seabird from Atlantic spotted on Alcatraz

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ex-Bell city leader gets 12 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ferry sinks off South Korea; 6 dead, 290 missing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Denver police eye 911 response time after killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Man charged with marathon hoax is held on bail

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Geneva talks on Ukraine face steep hurdles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Pro-Russian insurgents seize armored vehicles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Parenting demands responsibility

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

Let’s stop Fairfield’s future thugs

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Obamacare news you probably missed

By Martin Schram | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons for April 17, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

 
In support of Pam Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History for April 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

A lesson in household budgeting

By Chris Erskine | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes for April 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Alicia Silverstone out with book ‘Kind Mama’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Jenny McCarthy announces engagement on ‘The View’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Ailing Malcolm Young taking break from AC/DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Disney Channel’s ‘Jessie’ breaks romantic ground

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Daniel Radcliffe on why New York audiences rock

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

 
Crawford’s 41 points leads Warriors over Nuggets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Vacaville’s Peralta to wrestle at San Francisco State

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Angels beat A’s 5-4 on Iannetta’s HR in 12th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

MEL, SCAC tangle in hoops all-star games

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Sharks take goalie questions into rematch vs Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Backup QB Matt Flynn returns to Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaches deal to sell team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sidney Rice agrees to terms with Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Goodwin helps Suns to 104-99 win over Kings in finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
IndyCar driver Saavedra fined $10K

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sandoval’s single lifts Giants past Dodgers, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Officer: Sharper’s DNA found on 1 Arizona victim

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jets sign former Titans RB Chris Johnson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Spieth ready for more after Masters success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Yellen: Fed stimulus still needed for job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Some exempted from minimum wage, increased or not

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Fed survey: Growth picks up across most of US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Bank of America posts loss, hurt by legal charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Google’s 1Q earnings disappoint as ad prices slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9