Late Saturday, a new demand from Republican negotiators stunned White House officials. In a conference call with senior administration aides, McConnell's staff noted that the deal called for sharp cuts in military spending as part of the trigger. The Republican staff members said that getting votes on their side of aisle for the bill would be difficult because of that. As a sweetener, the Republicans asked, would the White House agree to add Medicaid cuts to the trigger?
Talking on a speaker phone in budget director Jacob Lew's office, Gene Sperling, Obama's top economic adviser, began to explain why the White House could not go along. Lew interrupted.
“No!” the typically mild-mannered Lew yelled. “The answer is simply no! No, no!”
We say no, too.
There are smart ways to cut Medicaid costs that improve care. Community Catalyst has cataloged a number of options. But the ideas the Republicans had in mind - capping funds to states, or reducing federal matching amounts, would just shift costs to states and poor recipients. We're grateful to the White House for putting their foot down.
-Victoria Bonney and Brian Rosman
UPDATE: Community Catalyst has a terrific analysis of the impact of the debt deal on Medicaid.