House Republicans signaled Thursday that they were backing away from the centerpiece of their budget plan — a proposal to overhaul Medicare — in a decision that underscored both the difficulties and political perils of addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal problems, per this New York Times article.
While top Republicans insisted that they remained committed to the Medicare initiative, which had become the target of intense attacks by Democrats and liberal groups in recent weeks, the lawmaker who would have to turn the proposal into legislation said he had no plans to do so any time soon.
Republicans suggested that they would continue to press to rein in the growing costs of Medicare, even if not through the current proposal, which would transform the program into one in which the federal government subsidized the purchase of private health insurance coverage by Americans 65 and older.
Given the parties’ differences and the short time frame for negotiations before Congress must increase the debt limit, both sides have indicated that any compromise is likely to be based less on specific policy changes than on proposals setting deficit-reduction targets for coming years. Those targets would be combined with triggers to make automatic cuts in spending — and tax increases, in Democrats’ view — if the targets are exceeded. Read more…