House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, opened up another front in the fiscal cliff negotiations Wednesday when The Cincinnati Enquirer published an op-ed by him calling for Obamacare to be included in debt deal talks. From Boehner’s op-ed:
The president’s health care law adds a massive, expensive, unworkable government program at a time when our national debt already exceeds the size of our country’s entire economy. We can’t afford it, and we can’t afford to leave it intact. That’s why I’ve been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation’s massive debt challenge.
A White House aide later told The Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein that Obama “would oppose involving the Affordable Care Act in the negotiations taking place to stave off the so-called fiscal cliff.” But Stein also added, “Another Senate Democratic aide did concede that some changes to the Affordable Care Act could be made as part of a grand-bargain deal that would replace the expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the $1 trillion in spending cuts included in the sequester. But those changes would not alter the purpose and reach of the law ‘in any meaningful way.’”
This mirrors what The Washington Examiner has heard from House Republican sources as well. Republicans acknowledge that Obama would never alter the fundamental architecture of Obamacare, but they do believe he would agree to lower health insurance subsidy spending in exchange for higher revenues. Remember, the original Senate version of Obamacare passed out of the Finance committee included less generous health insurance exchange subsidies. Republicans think they can get Obama to go back to those levels of Obamacare spending.
But will those cuts, if Obama does agree to them, be enough to mollify the Republican base? Right now it looks like Boehner is willing to agree to higher revenues if Obama agrees to slightly lower levels of Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare spending. Obama will tell his base no actual benefits have been cut and that entitlements have not been changed “in any meaningful way.” Boehner will tell his base that he has cut spending while forcing real and fundamental entitlement reform.
Both leaders have tough sales jobs ahead of them.
In Other News
The New York Times, Egypt’s Leader Seizes New Power: With a constitutional assembly on the brink of collapse and protesters battling the police in the streets over the slow pace of change, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday granting himself broad powers above any court as the guardian of Egypt’s revolution.
The Wall Street Journal, Gaza Cease-Fire Takes Hold: A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took hold across the Gaza Strip border on Thursday, the day after Egypt announced a halt to eight days of Israeli-Palestinian bombardments.
The Washington Post, Hamas leaders emerge stronger than ever: A week of bombardment by Israel has pulverized government buildings and militant weapons stores, and left 161 Palestinians dead. But the Gaza Strip’s Hamas leadership has emerged stronger than ever, Palestinians in Gaza said Thursday.
Knoxville News Sentinel, DesJarlais regrets past actions, has no plans to resign: Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., said Wednesday that he never intentionally misled voters about his past and stressed that he has no plans to resign over recent revelations that depict a private life starkly at odds with his public image as an anti-abortion, family values congressman.
McClatchy Newspapers, LAPD to deploy choppers, horses for Black Friday: Black Friday is a day for burning off those Thanksgiving calories with some intense Christmas shopping. But for the Los Angeles Police Department, it’s become a day of surveillance, crowd control and crime-suppression tactics.
Ross Douthat asks, “Can we be Sweden?”
Mark Krikorian on Haley Barbour’s “condescending twaddle” on immigration.
Jerry Bowyer explains how a failed commune gave us what is now Thanksgiving.
At The Huffington Post Mark Blumenthal explains how Obama’s internal polls got it right.
The Washington Post‘s Suzy Khimm reports that Democrats want to raise taxes to fix Social Security.
The New Republic‘s Tim Noah on Eight Ways Obama Can Jam Through His Agenda Without Congress.