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Today’s Headlines – Nov. 16, 2011

Good morning! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including more analysis of Supreme Court’s upcoming consideration of the health law, and the latest developments regarding the Super Committee.

The New York Times: News Analysis: Insurance Mandate May Be Health Bill’s Undoing
As Barack Obama battled Hillary Rodham Clinton over health care during the Democratic presidential primaries of 2008, he was adamant about one thing: Americans, he insisted, should not be required to buy health insurance. … Now President Obama may wish he had stuck to those words. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to take up a constitutional challenge to his landmark health care bill, and a decision could come in the midst of Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign (Stolberg, 11/15).

Politico: Suprecommittee’s Hands-Off Approach To Obama’s Health Care Law
From the provisions that aim to reconfigure how care is delivered at the bedside, to new templates for financing care, to the blueprint for helping 32 million Americans get coverage, the wide-reaching Affordable Care Act is on pace to stay largely intact as the six Democrats and six Republicans on the supercomittee grapple with how to slash the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion (Dobias, 11/15).

For more headlines …

The Washington Post: Supercommittee Members Face Rising Pressure From All Sides
Top congressional leaders intervened Tuesday in “supercommittee” talks about the national debt, as negotiators faced mounting pressure from both parties to back away from any deal that requires tax increases and cuts to cherished social programs. With one week remaining before a Thanksgiving deadline, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) met briefly to discuss the panel’s deliberations. Aides described the 15-minute session as a “gut check” to determine whether the parties can reach an accord to slice at least $1.2 trillion from projected borrowing over the next decade (Helderman and Montgomery, 11/15).

The New York Times: GOP Is Optimistic But Democrats Are Glum On Deficit Panel
House Republicans, back from a week of recess, met to discuss the Republican offer, which includes $300 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years and a rewriting of the tax code. The package was warmly received by many House Republicans at a meeting of their caucus on Tuesday, according to people who attended. … Democrats said they were dismayed to see Republicans rallying around the proposal without offering further concessions to address Democrats’ concerns (Steinhauer and Pear, 11/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Gimmicks Could Help Rescue Deficit Talks
All told, none of these efforts make the fundamental policy changes needed for a long-term budget fix. “Suddenly everyone is talking not about deficit reduction but deficit-reduction gimmicks,” said Stanley Collender, a budget expert and former congressional aide. Any perception of gimmickry could undermine the bill’s credibility especially among tea-party conservatives and on Wall Street, possibly risking another hit to the U.S.’s credit rating (Hook, 11/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Speaker Boehner Calls Supercommittee Deficit Plan, With Higher Taxes, A ‘Fair Offer’
The movement by Boehner and others on taxes is important, but his endorsement does not mean all Republicans will follow him or that a deal is in sight. Republicans have been unified for two decades in opposition to higher taxes, while Democrats on the supercommittee insist on additional revenue before they will agree to cuts in benefit programs like Medicare as part of a compromise (11/16).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Leaders Seek Backing For Tax Compromise
But not all Republicans bought into the pitch, an indication of the uphill climb House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) faces in crafting a deal that his conservative conference will support. Talks between Boehner and President Obama broke down this summer over taxes. … Also unclear is whether Democrats would accept $250 billion in new revenue, an amount they initially dismissed as paltry as they have pushed for an equal ratio of new taxes to spending cuts to Medicare and other domestic programs (Mascaro, 11/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicare Costs: More Or Less?
Several deficit-reduction committees have suggested changing the federal health-care program for seniors to combine the hospital- and doctor-services deductibles that participants currently pay separately. In this system, seniors could have a $550 annual deductible, and be required to pay 20% toward all services up to a $5,550 annual limit. But the change would mean that around three quarters of current beneficiaries would pay more — on average around $180 a year more — according to models created by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. About 5% of current beneficiaries who use hospital services most frequently would see a significant decrease in the amount they have to pay — around $1,570 a year. The rest of the beneficiaries wouldn’t experience any change, the study found (Radnofsky, 11/15).

Los Angeles Times: Cain, Paul, Romney And Gingrich Tied In New Iowa Poll
According to a new Bloomberg News poll, businessman Herman Cain leads the pack with 20% support among registered Republican and Republican-leaning voters, followed by Ron Paul at 19%, Mitt Romney at 18% and Newt Gingrich at 17%. The poll, which was taken Nov. 10-12, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, meaning the four candidates are in a statistical dead heat. … Like Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has also seen his support slide since the last Iowa poll, which had him at 22%. He’s now at 18%. Even worse, 58% said they would rule out a candidate who has favored a mandate to buy health insurance (Geiger, 11/15).

Politico: Poll: 47% Say Nix Obama Health Care
Splitting sharply along partisan lines, more Americans want to repeal President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care reform law than want to keep it, a new poll Wednesday shows. Given an option, 47 percent of Americans favor doing away with the health care program, while 42 percent believe it should be kept in place, reports Gallup. Eleven percent had no opinion or declined to answer the question (Mak, 11/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Nursing Home Stocks Ailing
Landlords to nursing homes are being sent to the sick house by investors who fear that deep cuts in Medicare spending will siphon off rent payments. However, some analysts believe investors are overreacting. Even in an era of increased austerity, nursing-home operators should remain profitable and most landlords should continue to receive uninterrupted rent payments, they say (Pruitt, 11/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: C-SPAN Asks Supreme Court To Let It Televise Next Spring’s Health Care Arguments Live
C-SPAN is asking the Supreme Court to let it broadcast live next spring’s arguments over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The not-for-profit network’s CEO, Brian Lamb, made the request by letter on Tuesday. There was no immediate response from the justices (11/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Psychiatric Drug Use Spreads
The medicating of Americans for mental illnesses continued to grow over the past decade, with one in five adults now taking at least one psychiatric drug such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety medications, according to an analysis of pharmacy-claims data (Wang, 11/16).