Emerging from their dinner with the president last night, GOP Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn flashed a thumbs up, signaling there might be some room for compromise on a potential grand bargainof spending cuts and revenue increases…or that their meal at the Jefferson Hotel was delicious.
Regardless, the president’s rare effort to court Republican lawmakers shows he is looking for coalition on a broader budget plan. The group reportedly dined for two hours amid discussion on the debt, deficits and taxes.
“I think what he is really trying to do is just start a discussion and break the ice, and that was appreciated,” said Mike Johanns (Neb.) one of 12 GOP senators invited to the president’s dinner. “His goal is ours — we want to stop careening from crisis to crisis and solving every problem by meeting a crisis deadline.” Republicans told reporters after dinner that though no new specific policies were discussed, they have laid the groundwork for further “positive” budget discussions. - Read more at Politico
THE GUEST LIST: OBAMA’S 12 GOP DINNER DATES
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
OBAMA INVITES RYAN TO LUNCH President Obama will sit down to lunch at the White House with Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, a week.
Ryan told reporters his new budget proposal would be very similar to to past blueprints, which proposed to cut $5 trillion in spending and balanced in 30 years. Ironically, the tax hike pushed by Obama as part of the fiscal cliff deal will make it slightly easier for Ryan to achieve his new goal of producing a surplus in 10 years. But even then, the math suggests he’ll need to make lots of contentious cuts to erase a deficit expected to be almost $1 trillion in 2023. - Read more at The Hill
WILL RYAN’S PLAN ALIENATE VOTERS? The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin and Josh Boak write to balance the budget in 10 years “without tax increases or crimping national security, House Republicans would likely have to cut deeply into Medicare benefits, eviscerate discretionary spending, or rig their budget numbers in a way that undermines their credibility. Each choice could alienate voters—and refiguring Medicare has already sparked concerns a week ahead of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin unveiling the Republican budget plan for fiscal 2014.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
RETAIL GROUP URGES REPEAL OF OBAMACARE PROVISION The National Retail Federation is urging lawmakers to repeal a provision in the president’s healthcare law that requires employers to provide benefits to their workers. NRF says the employer mandate is already stifling job growth and leading to layoffs, a claim backed by the Federal Reserves’ beige book released yesterday. - Read more at The Hill
SEQUESTER COULD COST MORE JOBS Economists worry that sequestration could stall the revival in the labor market and reduce job creation by more than 750,000 jobs by the end of the year, as well as delay a rise in U.S. interest rates until 2016. - Read more at the Financial Times
MILITARY HEALTH CARE DRIVES UP PENTAGON SPENDING It’s no secret that the Department of Defense has the largest budget of all government agencies, but a good portion of spending isn’t going to the battlefield. It’s going to the doctor’s office.
The Fiscal Times’ David Francis reports “costs for the Pentagon’s health care program, known as TRICARE, have been quietly but dramatically rising for the last decade. In just one decade, from 2001 to 2012, DOD health care spending rose from $17 billion to $52.2 billion. Health care spending now accounts for 10 percent of the Pentagon’s non-war budget. According to the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank, these costs are expected to continue to rise to $63.9 billion by 2015. - Read more at The Fiscal Times