The House GOP's Fiscal Cliff Counter-Offer: Fine, Let's Talk Cutting Medicare

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 3 2012 3:35 PM

The House GOP's Fiscal Cliff Counter-Offer: Fine, Let's Talk Cutting Medicare

The House GOP had offered a "fiscal cliff" avoidance plan, endorsed by the leadership and by the chairmen of the Budget and Ways and Means committees. (The latter committee is chaired by Paul Ryan.) You can read the entire offer (PDF) at the link. It's odd, spending about half its text reminding the president that he needs to back off what he wants, then reminding him how fantastic the GOP's original plan was.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

"After a status quo election in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected..."


As Obama knows, the most prominent House member running this year was would-be Vice President Paul Ryan. He lost. So it's in his interest to pretend that the election was merely "status quo," with no voter rejection of his budget ideas.

"If we were to take your Administration's proposal at face value, then we would counter with the House-passed Budget Resolution."

This leads into a discussion, complete with sophistry ("structural reforms to preserve and protect the nation's entitlement programs"), of that budget. But they're not proposing that. Here's what they're proposing:

"[$800 billion of] new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates. On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending."

Brian Beutler sees this as a close cousin to what Erskine Bowles proposed to the Supercommittee. The "mandatory spending" reference is to entitlements, namely Medicare, namely raising the retirement age -- something Bowles favored because Obamacare could catch people caught up in the 65-67 danger zone.

The best way to read President Obama's leaked offer to the GOP last week was: "You want to cut Medicare, you're going to have to propose it first." The House GOP has done so, and gone not to the Bowles-Simpson proposal, but to the proposal by the Democratic member of the pair. You see why they included all that opening verbiage about the "status quo" election. The Republicans are offering more than they did in 2011, and they're wearing the "painful cuts" hairshirts. But they leave aside the issue of top-end Bush tax rates. They try to move the conversation back to generic "revenue," which might mean something different to them than it meant to Bowles.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.