Obama Heads To St. Louis As Lobbyists Launch Ad Blitz To Kill Health Care Reform
St. Louis awaits “Trumanesque” address from Obama on health care today. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When Obama takes the stage at St. Charles High School before about 400 people this afternoon, he is expected to skewer the industry … Obama planned to spell out a new White House initiative today that would pay private auditors to root out waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid … If White House aides hoped that the Midwest visit today could snare another vote from the Missouri delegation, they might be disappointed. Rep. Ike Skelton … said Tuesday that he had seen nothing to change his mind.”
Speaker Pelosi aiming for vote on Senate bill this month, waiting for CBO. CNN: “Asked if House leaders want a letter or some other concrete assurance about what the Senate can pass in a reconciliation bill, Pelosi, D-California, said no. ‘… It’s not a question of confidence. It’s a question now of making sure those numbers are what we represent them to be and we have to have that validation from the CBO.’”
Sen. Minority Leader McConnell tries to scare House Dems that Senate won’t pass changes in reconciliation, previews smear campaign. W. Post quotes: “House Democrats will have to decide whether they want to trust the Senate to fix their political problems … They will be voting, when they pass the Senate bill, to endorse the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Gator-aid, the closed-door deal, the special deal for the unions…”
Grassroots protesters serve insurance companies with “citizen’s arrest” warrant yesterday. HCAN’s Jason Rosenbaum posts video.
HHS Sec. Sebelius to address insurance industry conference today reports Politico.
Anti-abortion Dem breaks with Stupak. Roll Call: “Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) … said Tuesday night that he’s satisfied the Senate abortion language prohibits federal funding of abortions and will likely vote for the bill … House Democratic leadership aides have predicted that they could perhaps cut the losses from Stupak’s coalition to a handful instead of the 10 or more Members he says will vote to bring down the Senate health care bill unless their demands are met.”
Corporate lobbyists spending $1M a day to kill health care reform reports Bloomberg.
Right-leaning Dems dismiss GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham call to reject simple majority vote, reports Politico. “Sen. Ben] Nelson said[,] ‘The Gang of 14 was directed at getting up-or-down votes. This is aimed at stopping an up-or-down vote.’”
The Hill maintains it’s own whip count. 27 former No votes listed as “Undecided” or “No Comment.”
Rush Limbaugh threatens to leave US if health care reform passes. Let’s help pack his bags says OurFuture.org’s Brian Dockstader. Click here to demand Congress take an up-or-down vote on health care.
Long-Term Jobless Aid Assured Passage Today
Eight GOPers reject filibuster of long-term unemployment insurance extension and state aid for Medicaid, reports Bloomberg: “[The bill offers] the jobless as many as 99 weeks of unemployment assistance averaging $300 per week along with a 65 percent subsidy to help buy health insurance through the federal Cobra program.”
Senate will revisit jobs tax credit this week. W. Post: “Later this week, the Senate is expected to vote one more time on a separate $15 billion jobs measure that it has already approved once. The House tweaked that bill before passing it last week.” The Hill adds: “One change provides more generous subsidies to the Build America Bonds that are included in the bill. That change has given some conservative lawmakers who supported the original measure pause when it comes to backing the proposal a second time.”
New House Ways & Means chair Rep. Sander Levin previews jobs agenda. W. Post: “…he plans to meet this week with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to work out differences between the two chambers over the estate tax … He and Baucus also are talking about two more jobs bills, to follow the two now pending in the Senate.”
W. Post’s Harold Meyerson highlights need for infrastructure bank to meet public desire to invest in America: “…in November 2008 … L.A. County’s beleaguered commuters voted to increase their sales tax by half a cent over the next 30 years to build an electric rail system that could speed their journeys and clean their air. Now, Los Angeles is asking Washington for loans … to be repaid with that sales tax revenue, to accelerate said construction … if the federal government could do this for Los Angeles, it could do this for other cities and counties whose voters have decided to tax themselves. Without adding to the deficit…”
Financial Reform Deals Spark Questions
NYT spotlights reported deal GOP Sen. Bob Corker struck to benefit home-state payday lenders: “[Corker] ressed to remove a provision from draft legislation that would have empowered federal authorities to crack down on payday lenders, people involved in the talks said. The industry is politically influential in his home state and a significant contributor to his campaigns, records show … Mr. Corker pressed Mr. Dodd to scale back substantially the power that the consumer protection agency would have over such companies … it would have to petition a body of regulators for authority over payday lenders and other nonbank financial companies … Payday loans are short-term, high-interest loans — typically 400 percent on an annualized basis — to help borrowers cover expenses until their next paycheck. Many take out more loans, digging themselves deeper into debt.”
Deal close on “too-big-too-fail” fund. Bloomberg: “Senate negotiators are closing in on a deal to create a $50 billion trust fund from fees on large financial firms … to wind down failing institutions … The Senate compromise would give the Federal Reserve the power to decide which firms would pay into a trust fund that would be held and managed by the Treasury…”
Sen. Dodd says that compromise could be completed in a “few days,” as Sen. Shelby floats new consumer protection compromise. CQ: “Shelby indicated that he would reluctantly support giving regulators who monitor the safety and soundness of financial institutions … the chance to object to rules proposed by the consumer supervisor, rather than veto authority … But it is not an embrace of Dodd’s proposal to allow the supervisors to appeal the consumer regulator’s actions to a new council…”
Rep. Barney Frank pushing for formal House-Senate conference aired on C-Span to hash out financial reform differences. Politico: “…Frank’s plan would force Senate lawmakers to go on the record as choosing weaker proposals on the consumer protection piece and others.”
WH-Senate Climate Meeting Lays Groundwork For Bipartisanship
President Obama and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham team up to reject narrow bill without carbon cap. Politico: “President Obama took the idea of an energy-only bill – the preferred approach of moderate Democrats – off the table, saying he wanted a ‘comprehensive’ bill that includes a cap on greenhouse gas emissions … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was impressed by Obama’s commitment to a comprehensive approach and urged his GOP collegues to back the bill. ‘I’m not going to support some half-assed reform,’ he exclaimed … Lieberman said the meeting was so encouraging that he wanted to bring the same lawmakers together in a new ‘gang of 14,’ after they released their proposal.”
Business lobbyists intrigued by tripartisan proposal. CQ: “…representatives of 14 industry groups — including such powerful opponents of the House bill as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — met Tuesday with [Sens. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham], and they expressed interest in the concept of tailoring emissions rules to fit the specific needs of different sectors of the economy …[Sen. Carl] Levin’s wish list [for manufacturers] included provisions that would: Phase in emissions controls for manufacturers more slowly than those for utilities … Condition emissions caps for manufacturers on implementation of a carbon tariff … Give more free pollution allowances to manufacturers than the House bill would.”
Kerry meets with Swift Boat attack ad financier T. Boone Pickens on climate bill. Newsweek: “…Kerry asked Pickens to take a look at his cap-and-trade plan, to which Pickens replied that he was still ‘very skeptical’ of such a proposal. But the two did agree on the ambitious goal of trying to get a bill to the president’s desk by Memorial Day.”
More GOP candidates denying climate crisis facts. LAT: “It wasn’t long ago that Marco Rubio and Tim Pawlenty — two rising Republican stars — supported legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But in recent weeks, both have begun to express doubts about whether cars, factories and power plants have anything to do with global warming … In the face of a stiff primary challenge for his Senate reelection, McCain has backed away from his support for emissions limits.”
American Farm Bureau lobbyist lying to farmers. Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson: “His ‘cow tax’ lie is based on a figure from the Bush-era US Department of Agriculture, which noted that a 100-ton-per-year threshold of greenhouse gas pollution would cover ‘even very small agricultural operations’ … The Environmental Protection Agency has no intentions of implementing a 100-ton-per-year threshold. Instead, it has proposed implementing a 25,000-ton threshold…”
China and India formally join Copenhagen Accord. NYT: “Analysts who have studied the pledges find that they fall short of the overall goal of the agreement, but would make a substantial dent in the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet China has said it will try to voluntarily reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth — a measure known as ‘carbon intensity’ — by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. India set a domestic emissions intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, excluding its agricultural sector.”