Democrats and Republicans have begun separate talks to review the issues around federal debt reduction and the upcoming negotiations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The committee is slated to hold its first meeting after Congress returns from its Labor Day recess.
News reports on the parties’ meetings yielded little new information about what to expect from the deficit committee. Some analysts viewed the committee’s recent appointment of a longtime Hill staffer and well-known tax expert to the position of Staff Director as a signal that the committee may consider significant changes to the tax code as a means to meeting its $1.2 trillion spending reduction goal. However, fiscal conservatives in Congress have remained steadfastly opposed to any tax changes that would raise federal revenue – and it is still far from clear whether the committee members could reach agreement on changes to the tax code. To get a sense of how the 12 committee members may approach the issues at hand in the deficit reduction negotiations, the consumer advocacy group Families USA has published a fact sheet outlining members’ past positions on Medicaid, Medicare, deficit control, and the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, Medicaid remains at risk under a variety of possible outcomes of the debt committee’s negotiations. The National Council has signed on to a letter being circulated by Families USA that urges the members of the committee to protect health care coverage for America’s most vulnerable families, especially those who depend on the Medicaid program for their lifeline.