Failed Debt Talks Could Be Cherry Picked for Cuts

Failed Debt Talks Could Be Cherry Picked for Cuts

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Congress doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to reducing the deficit: Lawmakers already have options on the table generated during previous deficit negotiations, according to Erik Wasson at The Hill, so they might as well make use of them.

The following options were drawn from a number of sources: the 2011 talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); Obama’s budget proposals; the Biden-led deficit talks; the proposal from the Senate’s "Gang of Six"; and the sequestration bills passed by the House:

*Food stamps: House Republicans found $16 billion in savings by including a provision in their sequestration bill making it tougher for recipients of home heating assistance to qualify for food stamps. 
*Farm subsidies: The Biden group would cut $33 billion in farm subsidies and conservation programs.
*Seniors’ programs: The House GOP’s sequestration bill cuts block grants for social services for seniors.
*Oil tax breaks: House Democrats proposed eliminating tax breaks claimed by the five biggest oil and gas companies, while the Obama budget proposals would end tax breaks for a wider group of oil and gas companies.
*"Buffet rule" tax hikes: The House Democratic bill would raise $46 billion by imposing a minimum tax rate on those who make above $1 million.
*Medicare: The Biden talks proposed reducing payments for drugs by the military’s TriCare insurance program.
*Medicaid: The Obama administration wants to cut $100 billion in savings by streamlining federal payments to states to administer the program, shifting costs onto state budgets.
*Corporate jet break: The Obama administration wants to raise $5 billion in revenue bychanging the depreciation rules for corporate jets.
*Coal companies: Obama wants to raise $2 billion by eliminating coal tax breaks. - Read more at The Hill

FORBES ANTICIPATES ROMNEY WIN Forbes president Steve Forbes told reporters at a conference in Dubai that Mitt Romney "will win" the upcoming presidential election – and that the newly elected Congress would avoid sending the country over the fiscal cliff by extending all tax breaks due to expire on Dec. 31 for one year. - Read more in the Examiner

FASTEST WAY TO CUT DEFICIT? If Congress truly wanted to discover the quickest way to deficit reduction, it should simply wait and allow the country to go over the fiscal cliff. The Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm reports that going over the cliff would significantly cut the deficit beginning next year by some of the following actions:

*$180 billion from income tax hikes
$120 billion in revenue from the payroll tax
$110 billion from the sequester’s automatic spending cuts
$160 billion from expiring tax breaks and other programs

"It would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars next year, but would also take away the equivalent 4.6 percent of GDP through tax hikes and spending cuts — a sharp fiscal contraction that economists say would be a drag on growth in a still-tepid economy." - Read more at The Washington Post

For more news on the approaching fiscal cliff, follow us on Twitter@Fiscalcliffnote

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.