COLA calculation is at the center of latest fiscal cliff standoff

Matt Rourke/AP

With fiscal cliff negotiations stalled, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called his old dance partner Vice President Joe Biden in from the sidelines.

"I have also placed a call to the vice president to see if he could help jump start the negotiations on his side," McConnell said on the floor Sunday afternoon. "The vice president and I have worked together on solutions before and I believe we can again."

Biden steps in as talks between Reid and McConnell stalled overnight over Republicans' insistence that a deal include a reform known as "chained CPI," which affects how federal retirees' cost-of-living-adjustments are calculated, as well as larger government entitlement programs. 

Democrats have rejected the proposal, arguing that their willingness to discuss chained CPI was only in the context of a grand bargain that included entitlement and tax reform, not the scaled-back package Senate leaders are now attempting to craft.

Chained CPI calculations would reduce the benefits Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries would receive, a reform many Democrats oppose. On the Senate floor Sunday afternoon, Reid reiterated that opposition saying "we're not going to have any Social Security cuts."

And, in a move that has mystified Republicans, Reid added that "at this stage, we're not able to make a counteroffer."

Republicans don't understand why Reid won't keep the negotiations moving by making a formal counteroffer that doesn't include chained CPI. McConnell said Republicans made their last offer at 7 p.m. Saturday night and have not heard back from Democrats since.

After a meeting of Republican senators Sunday afternoon, Sens. Olympia Snowe, Bob Corker and Dean Heller all said the GOP had taken the proposal off the table.

Reid emerged from a meeting of his Democratic colleagues and said the GOP was right to take chained CPI off the table, but told reporters, "We're still left with a proposal they've given us that protects the wealthy and not the middle class."

Reid said he made a counteroffer, but did not discuss the details.

"I'm concerned about the lack of urgency here," McConnell said.

Republican aides would not say what was in their most recent offer. But privately some suggest that Reid may have been stalling for time until he could address his colleagues during a closed door meeting this afternoon.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide called the GOP's decision to inject chained CPI into the talks last night "a major setback."

But in his remarks on the floor, Reid still held out hope for a deal saying, "I'm not overly optimistic but I am cautiously optimistic that we can get something done."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.