Anonymous aides to Republicans "who know," say Tim Geithner's opening proposal from the White House to solve the "fiscal cliff" looks "almost exactly like" the budget proposal President Obama made last February, reports Andrew Taylor, in Fiscal Cliff 2012: Republicans Say White House Proposes $1.6 Trillion In New Tax Revenue, New Stimulus, Elimination Of Debt Ceiling.
GOP aides say Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented an offer calling for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the coming decade, extending the 2 percentage point payroll tax deduction or something comparable to it and $50 billion in stimulus spending on infrastructure projects.
The White House plan calls for $960 billion over the coming decade by increasing tax rates and taxes on investment income on upper-bracket earners and $600 billion in additional taxes. Republicans view the offer as a step backward with the fiscal cliff – an economy-rattling set of automatic spending cuts and tax increases – looming at years' end.
The only new spending cuts in the plan would come from administration proposals curbing health care programs by $400 billion over the coming decade and modest cuts from non-health programs like farm subsidies and cutting Postal Service costs and through higher fees on airline tickets. The plan would also boost spending by extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, deferring looming cuts to Medicare payments to physicians and helping homeowners refinance "underwater" mortgages.
Geithner is also requesting a permanent extension of the government's borrowing ability to avoid a crisis in the next months over the debt limit.
One outcome of such a "grand bargain" would be to avoid the $109 billion in cuts that would be this year's portion of the automatic sequestration cuts scheduled to take effect in January.
It is a relief to finally see an outline of a complete proposal dealing with taxes, sequestration, the doctors fix, payroll tax withholding, and the debt limit all in one package.
I would prefer to see cuts to military spending than any reductions in health care or Medicare. I know we say we are only cutting reimbursements to providers and not to beneficiaries, but there is only so far we can cut these without influencing services received.
My understanding is that some of the Mayo Clinics in the mid-west (maybe Arizona?) are no longer accepting Medicare patients, and it can take a long time to schedule appointments. When I was diagnosed last year with diabetes type 2 in April, it took my leading community health clinic, in Boston, until December to find me the first available appointment with a nutritionist to tell me how I should change my diet.
But, overall, I"m encouraged to see us Democrats opening with a solid aggressive proposal. I will strongly stand behind Geithner and President Obama in resisting concessions to these obstructionist Republicans. We can win this battle with the bully pulpit and media and I'm ready to fight this battle.