Eye on the Other Ball

7:25 a.m. E.T.

With all the focus on individual marginal tax rates, the spending side of the fiscal cliff ledger has gotten shockingly little attention.

The New York Times in its cliff story this news cycle buries the lead in the last three paragraphs:

This week the president and speaker took direct control after staff-level talks bogged down late last week, largely over what one person close to the White House called “the big 2”: Republicans’ demands that Mr. Obama agree both to a slow increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, to 67 from 65, and to a new formula that would reduce cost-of living increases for Social Security.

Mr. Obama has balked; he opposes both ideas and faces heavy pressure from unions and other progressive groups to reject them. But his stance is undercut by the fact that he had tentatively agreed to both proposals in last year’s secret talks, in return for Mr. Boehner’s support for raising taxes on high-income earners.

The president and his aides have told Mr. Boehner and his team that both proposals would be a hard sell to other Democrats, people close to the talks say.

Up until now, the President has been able to put public pressure on the Republicans by talking about tax fairness and the wealthy. He’s been able to rally his base on Capitol Hill and around the country by doing the same thing, while avoiding open discussion of entitlement reform.

In the next act of this drama, that is all going to change.

Related Topics: Barack Obama, Fiscal Cliff, John Boehner, Mark Halperin, Medicare, New York Times, Social Security, Analysis, Congress, Democratic Party, House, News, Republican Party, Senate, The Page, White House

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