Progressive Tax Plan Funds House Health Care Bill
Politico Pulse reports House bill coming today: “The House is expected to introduce a health reform bill that will cover its estimated $1 trillion price tag by levying higher taxes on people making $350,000 or more and with big cuts to Medicare and Medicaid”
Senate not rushing to embrace House tax approach. The Hill: “‘I think we are going to have a different approach,’ Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ … Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said while there are some benefits to taxing only the wealthy, he was not convinced [of] the surcharge proposed…”
Roger Hickey makes case against taxing benefits in NYT oped: “…several recent studies find that it is almost impossible to design a tax that doesn’t overburden workers in firms with older or low-income employees or companies in regions with higher-than-average insurance premiums.”
Politico notes House moderates are split: “The discussion at the meeting [with Blue Dog leaders] centered on Medicare’s already controversial reimbursement rates for health care providers. Moderates echoed long-standing complaints from doctors and private insurers that the current rates are too low, particularly in under-served, rural communities … Still, there are cracks and openings in the moderate bloc. Last week, a band of New Democrats led by California Rep. Lois Capps and Connecticut Rep. Chris Murphy broke with the leaders of their coalition to alert party brass that they’re willing to support a public plan that uses Medicare’s existing network to reimburse health care providers.”
The Treatment’s Jonathan Cohn reports CBO to make Blue Dog obstruction harder: A lot of conservative Democrats, not to mention Republicans, express two big concerns about health reform. They’re worried that reform will cost too much. And they don’t want a government-run insurance plan. It’s about to get a lot harder to make those two arguments simultaneously. According to a pair of Capitol Hill sources, preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that a strong public option–the kind that the House of Representatives is putting in its reform bill–should net somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 billion in savings over ten years. ”
The Walker Report suggests a response to the new CBO numbers: “Progressives should frame the choice clearly: A strong public plan or a massive tax increase.”
Change.org’s Tim Foley recaps Bill Moyers interview with Wendell Potter: “Wendell Potter was a top-ranked executive at Cigna when the insurance industry began to bat down the outrage produced by Michael Moore’s Sicko. That playbook of how they pressured Congress to take no action whatsoever in the face of Moore’s documentary should be very familiar to those watching the political dance going on in Washington. Focus on the minority of ‘disaster’ stories from those in England in Canada, even if those stories don’t represent the average experience. Use your lobbying power to influence Democrats, especially centrist Democrats. Threaten political reprisal. Mock those who are advocating reform as being out-of-touch – a neat trick coming from executives who, as Potter mentions in the previous clip, flew in corporate jets and ate lunch with gold-plated silverware.”
Wal-Mart support of employer mandates splits retail industry. WSJ: “The National Retail Federation plans to send an aggressively worded letter Monday to its members encouraging them to take a stand against Wal-Mart’s backing of an employer-health-care mandate.”
Anxiety over meeting president’s deadline for action. Bloomberg: “Lawmakers, faced with Obama’s August deadline for legislation, say the president must get more involved. So far, he’s kept his hands off the process, in contrast to the approach taken by former President Bill Clinton… ‘At some point, the White House is going to have to weigh in,’ said Senator Tom Harkin …. ‘The heavy lifting will come when we get to the pay portion. That’s when the White House is going to have to spend some political capital.’ Obama and his aides say they learned from the mistakes of the Clintons, who handed Congress a 1,342-page plan drawn up behind closed doors. This time, the president left Congress with the task of drafting a measure to reduce health-care costs and expand coverage to the nation’s estimated 46 million uninsured.”
Harkin talks up reconciliation route to pass reform with simple majority. TPMDC: “Harkin thinks it may be hard to keep the 60 members of the Democratic caucus united against Republican filibusters–and that means the party may pass health care reform through the budget reconciliation process. ‘I think Democrats being Democrats — like Will Rogers once said, “I’m a member of no organized political party: I’m a Democrat” — I think that holds true today,’ Harkin told the Iowa Gazette. Under those circumstances–and with Republicans largely united against all of President Obama’s agenda items–how will Democrats possibly pass a major initiative like health care reform? In a budget reconciliation bill, it seems, which can’t be filibustered. Harkin called that a ‘distinct possibility.’”
The President to return to bully pulpit. USA Today: “Obama has speeches planned this week in New York and Michigan, and he said he will try to calm anxiety. ‘My biggest job, even as my staff is working on the day-to-day negotiations with the House and Senate staffs, my biggest job is to explain to the American people why this is so important and give them confidence that we can do better than we’re doing right now,’ he said”.
PCCC asks supporters to vote on target for its next round of ads for public plan option, and DailyKos’ slinkerwink urges calls to key House members.
Merits of Second Stimulus Harder To Ignore
Paul Krugman laments: “Like Brad [DeLong], I’m not too happy with the policy justifications we’re getting from the administration. It’s perfectly clear that the stimulus was too small; I think they know that too. But they’ve made a political judgment that (a) they can’t push another round through and (b) the thing to do right now is defend the policy they already have.”
Calculated Risk predicts eventual passage: “My guess is another stimulus package is coming – but the Obama Administration is in a political bind and they will have to wait a few more months. The second package will probably be introduced after the third quarter – or once the unemployment rate reaches 10% – and my guess is it will be about half the size of the package proposed by Dr. Delong.”
Bernanke to lay out Fed’s “exit strategy.” Bloomberg: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke probably will show how the central bank will exit the biggest monetary expansion in history when he reports to Congress next week, economists said. The Fed pumped $1 trillion into the banking system over the past year through bond purchases and emergency loans, doubling assets on its balance sheet. Reassuring investors that inflation won’t exceed forecasts once the recession ends will give the Fed more credibility, said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. While policy makers have spoken about specific tools they may use, they haven’t laid out a strategy.”
Mother Jones wonders if labor economist Jared Bernstein is on the margins of WH deliberations: “During early White House budget debates, Bernstein urged Obama to focus less on deficits than Geithner and Summers advised, arguing that in a recession bigger deficits would be preferable. A bigger deficit, after all, would be the result of a bigger stimulus. But as one high-level administration official in those meetings says, ‘Those guys kind of prevailed.’ Bernstein, and his hopes for a larger stimulus than Obama ended up proposing, lost. ”
Coal-Powered Senate Dems Threaten Climate Bill
Politico looks at potential obstructionists Sen. Evan Bayh: “the Senate’s current energy bill contains a Bayh amendment that would allow utilities to pay a penalty fee and essentially opt out of any new requirement that they get a certain amount of their energy from renewable sources rather than coal. States would then be required to use the penalty payments to invest in clean energy technologies. Environmentalists don’t like the idea because they worry some states will invest the penalty fees in nuclear power or clean coal technology, projects that they don’t consider green enough. But Bayh insisted that to gain his support, ‘it’s going to be things like that that I’m going to look at.’” and Sen. Claire McCaskill: “McCaskill says she’s broadly supportive of taking action to slow global warming, but she worries about the impact on her state. Missouri is home to one of the largest coal companies in the world, Peabody Energy, and gets 85 percent of its electricity from coal.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer expresses optimism to McClatchy: “Last year, Boxer’s standalone climate-change bill fell to defeat, but there’s a new strategy this year that will make it harder for senators to reject it. Six committees — Environment and Public Works, which Boxer heads, Finance, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture and Foreign Relations — will have jurisdiction over the bill. Those committee heads have been meeting for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who’ll help combine their work into one massive bill this fall. Boxer said the approach was unlike any she’d experienced since she joined the Senate in 1993, and she predicted that it will simplify passage.”
Rep. Jay Inslee urges Senate to pass House bill to boost economy, in Politico oped: “money that now lines the pockets of oil barons in the Middle East will go to American workers, like those installing turbines at wind farms in Washington state’s Kittitas Valley.