Supercommittee Chair Decries Democrats' Refusal to Accept Medicare Cuts

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Democrats’ unwillingness to accept major Medicare cuts will rank among top factors meriting blame if President Obama’s supercommittee fails to meet its November 23 deadline to cut the federal deficit, Republican supercommittee co-chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said Wednesday in a press briefing Wednesday.

During the briefing, Hensarling noted that the panel’s six Democrats have yet to put real entitlement reform on the table, and that President Obama “got in the way” when he noted, in September, that health care cuts needed to “go hand-in-hand” with new revenues.

“His veto threat has been widely interpreted to mean there can be no reforms of our unsustainable Medicare and healthcare spending until attached to a trillion-dollar tax increase that we believe fundamentally would make the jobs crisis even worse,” Hensarling said.

Hensarling added that Republicans would be “more than happy to negotiate” another offer from Democrats. However, he declined to reveal whether $250 billion comprises the maximum in new revenue deemed acceptable by the GOP, and entreated Democrats to devise an offer that would include not only significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid, but also to overall health care spending.

“I’m not going to negotiate against myself,” Hensarling asserted. “That is one offer we have put on the table that they can accept.”

Republicans are currently feeling pressure to win a deal to avoid automatic cuts to Pentagon spending that would be triggered should the supercommittee not agree to at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over a 10-year period.