Factbox: What can we expect to see in Obama debt plan?

Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:17pm EDT

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will present his ideas for narrowing budget deficits and controlling the national debt to a special congressional panel on Monday.

Following are the elements he may present to the 12-member "super committee" tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings as part of an August deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling:

HEALTHCARE

Obama agreed as part of his summer debt ceiling negotiations with John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, to gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

But The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday the White House was now looking instead at cuts to Medicare providers and increased premiums for wealthier recipients.

Other savings could also come from better coordinating coverage of "dual eligibles," people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, who account for a disproportionate amount of the government's health spending.

The president may also push to require drug companies to offer the government lower prices for prescription drugs used by recipients, and to change the way the government provides Medicaid money to states that administer the program.

Drug makers, hospitals, doctors and insurers have different interests in such proposals and are expected to ramp up their lobbying of Congress to avoid losing coverage or markets.

RETIREMENT BENEFITS

As part of the negotiations with House of Representatives Speaker Boehner, Obama was open to changing the way Social Security benefits are linked to the inflation rate in order to slow the increase in payouts.

But with political pressure increasing on Obama and his fellow Democrats ahead of the 2012 election, the White House said Social Security changes would not be part of the president's recommendations to the super committee.

The same pressure from liberal voters and labor unions means Obama is not likely to scale back retirement benefits for federal workers, something that was discussed in the summer debt ceiling talks without any agreement.

TAXES

Obama is expected to repeat his call for wealthy Americans and companies to "pay their share" to help narrow deficits.

To pay for a $447-billion jobs-creation plan, Obama wants to limit itemized tax deductions and some tax exemptions that can be taken by individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families earning more than $250,000.

He also wants to close a loophole that allows private equity and hedge fund managers to pay the lower capital gains tax rate, instead of the income tax rate, on a large chunk of their income known as "carried interest."

The president also wants to end several tax subsidies that support the oil and gas industry, and end a tax break for companies that own private jets.

Obama may also be considering ways to get U.S. companies to bring home profits now parked abroad.

Corporations want a tax holiday allowing them to bring those profits home at a reduced tax rate. They also want a new territorial tax system that would permanently exempt those profits, in whole or in part, but many in Congress oppose both ideas. Big multinational companies, such as drug makers and high-tech firms with valuable intellectual property, have a lot at stake on this issue.

Republicans and businesses also want to see a lower overall corporate tax rate, but Obama is unlikely to support that without a large number of tax breaks and exemptions closed.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis, Kevin Drawbaugh, Andy Sullivan and Alister Bull in Washington; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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