Posts Tagged ‘closed doors’
Health Care News
One of the key issues the White House, House, and Senate will be negotiating behind closed doors, is how to pay for President Obama’s $2.5 trillion plan. Reconciling the differences between these two bills will remain a difficult task for legislators particularly as they rely on a different mix of revenue-generators. The following two lists include key revenue-generating mechanisms in both the House and Senate bills as reported by Tax Notes.
House-passed Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962):
– $460.5 billion over 10 years from a 5.4 percent Surtax on individuals making more than $500,000 and families earning more than $1 million (begins 2011)
– $135 billion as part of an 8 percent tax of a firm’s payroll ($750,000 or more) and a lower rate if firm payroll is between $500,000 $749,999 (begins 2013)
– $33 billion as part of a 2.5 tax on modified adjusted gross income (AGI) for those individuals that do fail to secure “acceptable” health coverage (begins 2014)
– $20 billion from a 2.5 percent excise tax on medical devices (begins 2013) (more…)
Health Care News
How does Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plan to move Obamacare past the House, despite some highly-controversial, lingering issues? Clues are beginning to appear in the progressive blogosphere:
– Firedoglake is reporting that Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is returning to Washington this week to begin closed-door negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House. From FDL: “Discussions are beginning early on the health care bill, although the House is not returning to session until January 12, and the Senate not until a week later. This will not be a traditional conference committee, Waxman said, because the motions to select and instruct conferees in the Senate “would need 60 votes all over again.” Instead, whatever agreements made could be packaged in an amendment to the bills passed by the House and Senate.”
– The New Republic reports that “according to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are ‘almost certain’ to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps–not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate–that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.”
– TPMDC reports: “‘This process cuts out the Republicans,’ said a House Democratic aide. Republicans will ‘not have a motion to recommit opportunity’–a procedural trick the minority can use to scuttle legislation in the House at the last minute.”
Health Care News
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has set the stage for a major vote Monday morning at 1:00 AM – one that would require the support of 60 Senators. That would, if all goes according to Senator Reid’s plan, set up a late-night Christmas Eve vote on final passage. Senator Reid also used a rare procedure to block any further amendments from being offered, debated or voted upon.
When it comes time for Senators to cast their vote at 1:00AM Monday morning, shortly after Sunday Night Football ends and most Americans are in bed, they will have had less than 38 hours to understand a 383-page amendment that introduces several new concepts into the health care debate, including:
– A scheme that gives the Office of Personal Management immense power in administering what amounts to a multi-state public plan;
– How much a state “opt-out” of abortion coverage in the legislation erodes the long-standing Hyde-amendment;
– The budgetary impact of ELIMINATING the physician reimbursement fix; and,
– Multiple new taxes, federal regulations and sweet-heart deals aimed toward certain states like Nebraska.
It is important for Americans to understand the process being used by the Senate. Barring any procedural snags (of which there are many in the Senate’s complex rules and precedents), the debate is likely to play out as follows:
– Monday, 1:00 AM – Vote to invoke cloture (i.e. end debate) on the manager’s amendment. 60 votes are necessary.
– Tuesday, 7:00 AM – Vote to approve the manager’s amendment. A majority vote is necessary.
– Tuesday, 8:00 AM – Vote to invoke cloture on the original Reid substitute amendment (the 2,000-page bill). 60 votes are necessary.
– Wednesday, 2:00 PM – Vote to approve the Reid substitute amendment. A majority vote is necessary.
– Wednesday, 3:00 PM – Vote to invoke cloture on the underlying bill. 60 votes are necessary.
– Thursday, 9:00 PM – Vote to approve the underlying bill (i.e. the Senate’s version of Obamacare). A majority vote is necessary.
Last January, President Obama told his senior staff that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” Now, an unconstitutional health care proposal that was drafted behind closed doors and poised to be approved while Americans are not looking will become the touchstone of his presidency. Surely this was not what the American people signed up for.
Health Care News
Despite President Obama’s pledge that congressional discussions on health reform legislation would be “televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or insurance companies,” The Washington Post reports that just three senators are determining the current health debate behind closed doors.
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sits at the head of a wooden table at his office as he and Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) work to merge two competing versions of health-care legislation into one bill,” the Post reports, noting White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel also will be in on the talks, which started on Wednesday and could be completed this week.
The lawmakers will determine whether controversial items in the health legislation, such as a government-run health plan or individual mandates to buy insurance, will be included in a final bill. “This bill is being written in the dark of night,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in the article, adding that “the president ought to keep his promise to the American people and open this process up.”
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