As the talks over a budget deal heat up, reports of an early framework to avoid the "fiscal cliff" show that cuts to entitlements could be a key part of the negotiations.
Politico reports on the early shape of the deal:
Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion — the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion — and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and “war savings.” And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The two men had what one insider described as a short, curt conversation Wednesday night — but the private lines of communications remain very much open.
“[Obama] is committed, every time he talks about this, to a balanced approach that includes both, you know, revenues, spending cuts and savings through entitlement reforms,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, according to the New York Times.
Democrats like Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin have said that they will fight any attempts to cut Obama's health care law or privatize Social Security and Medicare. "Those conversations should not be a part of a plan to avert the fiscal cliff," Durbin said this week. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt, recently made a similar argument: “Do not cut Social Security, do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid and do not provide more tax breaks to the top 2 percent, who are doing phenomenally well and, in many cases, have never had it so good.”
But Roll Call reports that some liberals are resigned to the fact that in order for a deal to be reached, some cuts to entitlements will have to be made:
Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said most Democrats will accept some changes in entitlement programs, provided Republicans go along with substantial revenue increases. “But it’s going to be a tricky balancing act,” he said.
Today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and senior White House aide Rob Nabors will meet with leadership of both the House and the Senate to further discuss a possible deal.