Despite Huge Support for Public Plan, Senate Slows Health Care Reform
NYT offers misleading headline, “Obama Poll Sees Doubt on Budget and Health Care,” yet NYT poll does not ask about the specifics of Obama’s health care proposal.
NBC/WSJ poll does ask, and finds huge support for public plan option: “more than three-quarters believe it’s important for Americans to have a choice between a public/government insurance plan and a private one.”
Further details from WSJ Health blog: “Fifty-five percent of respondents said they favor the plan supported by the president, while 35% said they opposed it — figures that are basically unchanged from a poll fielded in April … Sixty-two percent of people said requiring everyone to have health insurance, with government assistance for low and moderate income people, was an acceptable proposal … taxing a portion of ‘expensive health plans’ that include ‘more generous benefits than a standard plan,’ in the words of the poll — proved widely unpopular. Only 33% of respondents deemed that idea ‘acceptable.’ On the other hand, 62% of respondents said it would be acceptable to raise taxes on people making over $250,000 in order to fund health reform.”
Baucus delays introduction of a bill, possibly until next month. Time: “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who had breezily told reporters as recently as Tuesday that he would have a bill ready by the end of the week, suddenly announced Wednesday that he has decided to ‘slow things down,’ and that his committee may not begin the formal process of drafting its bill until after the July Fourth congressional recess. If that’s the case, it is hard to see how he can meet his other goal of seeing the legislation pass the Senate by the end of July.”
The Hill: “Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he is looking to shrink the costs from $1.6 trillion to $1 trillion after reading an analysis … by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) … ‘When we are ready, we’re ready. We’re not there yet,’ Baucus said after members of the Finance Committee decided to re-craft portions of the legislation based on the CBO estimate.”
Change.org’s Tim Foley slaps Baucus: “…Baucus is looking to trim $600 billion out of his plan – even if it means that its ability to cover more Americans will be substantially reduced. You can’t cut out a third of your bill without taking the axe to primary care, prevention, subsidies for the middle class to afford premiums, and everything that we know our health care system actually needs, and needs desperately. And what, aside from a couple fewer insults from John McCain, will you have gained?”
Insurers ready to turn on Obama? Politico: “the trouble spilled over to powerful interest groups that have been muting their concern in hopes of keeping a seat at the table. Now they’re no longer staying quiet, issuing critical public statements and strategizing privately with allies.”
Wonk Room on Republican obstruction in the Senate HELP committee: “…Republicans tried to obstruct the effort by complaining that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had not yet scored the entire proposal. But as Sam Stein reported yesterday, it was Republicans who pushed for the incomplete HELP bill to be studied by the CBO, and ‘when poor results came back,’ they pretended that the agency scored the entire bill.”
House GOP proposal is no proposal at all. Time: ” Let’s leave aside for the moment that this plan was a four-page exercise in public relations that left out how many of the 47 million uninsured Americans would be covered, how it would be paid for or even how much it would cost. The plan — and the four others introduced by Republicans in the House and five more in the Senate — is indicative of how the GOP is handling Democratic efforts to pass universal health care: death by a thousand paper cuts.”
MyDD’s Jonathan Singer adds: “The Republicans would be a little more convincing in their efforts to appear to be willing to negotiate in good faith on healthcare if, for instance, their plan was actually a bill longer than four pages that actually did something — anything — to reform our healthcare system.”
WH To Amp Up Pressure To Pass Climate Bill
Politico: “The Obama administration will make an intense push to pass climate and energy legislation next week, according to key lawmakers, aides and lobbyists … roughly 50 House Democrats still remain undecided about the bill…”
Also from Politico: “Desperate for votes on the controversial climate and energy bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has invited moderate Republicans to her office on Thursday to discuss the pending legislation.”
FLASHBACK from The Hill: “There is thinking within leadership that it’s better to have two complex issues going at one time, the aide said. When there’s only one, it draws all the fire. So Pelosi might keep cap-and-trade going, waiting for healthcare to become stalled, then return the emphasis to cap-and-trade.”
Enviroknow reports “diverse coalition of groups representing more than 10 million Americans launched a major television, print, and online advertising campaign this week urging Congress to pass and strengthen the American Clean Energy & Security Act, which is likely to come up for a vote on the House floor next week. Groups taking part in the effort include Sierra Club, VoteVets.org, the League of Conservation Voters, America’s Building Trades Unions, Democracia Ahora, the Blue Green Alliance, the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, and the Service Employees International Union. These groups have collectively spent approximately $5 million in recent weeks in support of a strong clean energy jobs plan.”
CQ on House talks between Waxman and Dem global warming skeptic Peterson: “House negotiators say they are making progress in resolving moderate Democrats’ concerns about a climate change bill, with a compromise possible by the end of this week or the beginning of the next …’I would think by Friday or Monday we would have a clear idea of the totality of the bill,’ Waxman said … Rick Boucher, D-Va., one of the leading negotiators for the moderates, said he expects members to be able to address a central concern of Peterson’s: that electric utilities in certain regions of the country would receive fewer than their fair share of emissions allowances to comply with the bill’s cap on greenhouse gas emissions.”
Matt Yglesias slaps Peterson for ill-serving farmers: “The agriculture system is heavily implicated in our current, unsustainable climate trajectory. Consequently, adjustment may be painful for practitioners of industrial agriculture and for communities that depend on it. But simply pretending that the problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make the problem go away. Agriculture is also heavily exposed to the potentially devastating impact of climate change. Farmers and farm communities are being done no real favors by Peterson’s attitude.”
TNR’s Brad Plumer: “one of the big bones of contention is how agricultural offsets are treated in the climate bill … the effectiveness of many agriculture offsets is fuzzy and unclear, and close examination will be necessary to make sure that farmers aren’t just, say, getting paid to install methane digesters that they wouldn’t have installed anyway—or, worse, getting paid for offsets that don’t make any difference at all … So there’s a real risk that the Ag crew could further weaken a bill that already may produce smaller-than-expected cuts due to its heavy reliance on carbon offsets.”
Grist’s Kate Sheppard on energy compromise concerning enviros that just cleared Senate energy cmte: “A major concern for enviros and for some senators is that the bill would allow oil and gas drilling up to 10 miles off parts of the Florida coast, lifting a ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that Congress instated two and a half years ago … The bill includes a renewable electricity standard (RES) that’s weaker than the one being considered in the House as part of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill. The version in the Senate bill would require utilities to draw 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources or energy-efficiency measures by 2021. Renewable-energy advocates have said that even the House version—which requires 20 percent of power to come from renewables and efficiency by 2020—is far too weak to make much a difference.”
Climate Progress chastises Breakthrough Institute for attacking House climate bill: “The Breakthrough Institute is lying about Obama, misstating what CBO concluded about Waxman-Markey, and publishing deeply flawed analyses. They have become radioactive — uncitable by any serious journalist or policy analyst.”
Bloomberg talks to Energy Sec. Chu on climate bill: “‘I know there’s some people who said, ‘It’s so far from being perfect, we don’t want it,’ said Chu. ‘I’m not in that camp.’ ‘As we more learn more about the science, learn more about other things, we can make adjustments,” Chu said. “Rather than quibble about whether it’s 20 percent or 17 or 15 percent, let’s just get it going.’”
Wall Street Knives Out To Gut Reforms
LA Times: “Consumer groups hailed the plan … But banks and other Wall Street firms that earn billions of dollars on consumer financial products quickly attacked the proposal, setting the stage for what is likely to be a hard-fought legislative battle.
The Hill has congressional reaction: “Republicans opposed the vast majority of the proposal, arguing that in many cases it amounts simply to additional government bureaucracy … Democrats praised the administration’s efforts to restructure the system, but many also had a litany of specific concerns … Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged lawmakers to consider ‘further consolidation’ among the banking regulators … Schumer underscored his desire to see the SEC gain greater power … Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) … sponsored a bill that goes further than the Obama administration in regulating derivatives … Dodd, who at times has also been critical of the Fed, told reporters bluntly after Obama spoke that there is ‘not a lot of confidence in the Fed right now.’”
FT airs criticism that reg reform did not merge The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Fortune reports bank lobby fighting merger of Office of Thrift Supervision with Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. “The administration would also do away with the federal thrift charter that the OTS enforces. This is being done to reduce so-called regulatory arbitrage — in which banks shop for the most lenient overseer.”
Mother Jones’ Nomi Prins dissects “The Good, The Bad, The Weak” in the reg reform plan.
Reuters reports TARP paybacks: “Five of the largest U.S. banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley, repaid billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout funds Wednesday …Goldman also said it paid a dividend of $425 million, which will reduce second-quarter profit by about 77 cents per share JPMorgan, U.S. Bancorp and BB&T also intend to buy back warrants for their common stock from the U.S. Treasury, which they awarded when they took the bailout money.”
Terrance Heath contributed to the making of this Breakfast.