The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Budget

Congressional Democrats Reach Agreement on Obama Budget

Updated 11: 27 a.m.
By Lori Montgomery
Congressional Democrats, meeting late into the evening with senior White House officials, reached a tentative agreement on President Obama's $3.5 trillion budget request, including use of a procedural shortcut to speed Obama's health and education initiatives through the Senate without Republican votes.

The deal, which must be ratified by a House-Senate conference committee, would not permit use of the maneuver known as "reconciliation" for Obama's climate-change initiative. Under the agreement, the Senate committee in charge of climate legislation would not receive authority to participate in a reconciliation bill, congressional aides said.

Reconciliation bills are privileged tax or spending measures that cannot be blocked by filibuster, meaning they need only 51 votes to pass the Senate rather than the usual 60. With 58 Senate seats, Democrats would not need any GOP support to pass a reconciliation bill.

Negotiators also sorted out a variety of other differences between the budget resolutions that passed the House and Senate earlier this month. They tentatively agreed to compromise on non-defense programs for the fiscal year that begins in October, setting a spending figure higher than the Senate wanted, but less than the House had approved. It would trim Obama's request by about $10 billion.

The deal also would protect millions of taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax for three more years. And it would prevent scheduled cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients for two years.

Both moves would dramatically increase annual budget deficits compared with current law, but they could take effect only if the House moves to enact budget rules to prevent the deficit from rising even further. Fiscal conservatives in the House appeared to have lost their battle to force the Senate to hold a vote on those budget rules as well, aides said.

It was unclear this morning whether additional deficit-reduction provisions may be part of the agreement. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) had been pressing forcefully for the creation of a commission to examine Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and propose ways to bring their spiraling costs under control, according to sources close to the negotiations. The idea is strongly opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and has gotten no support from the White House.

But as one of only three Senate members on the conference committee, Conrad may have leverage to win concessions.

The other Senate conferees are Washington Democrat Patty Murray and top Budget Republican Judd Gregg (N.H.). House members are Budget Committee chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.).

The conference committee is likely to meet early next week. If the panel ratifies the agreement, it would then face a vote in each chamber. Such a vote, also expected next week, would finalize the deal on Obama's schedule. The budget resolution is not signed by the president, but sets the framework for spending and tax bills later this year.

White House officials are urging lawmakers to finish their work quickly, so Obama can claim victory on the budget within his first 100 days.

Posted at 10:52 AM ET on Apr 24, 2009  | Category:  The Budget
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Health care has been a constant worry to my family, since I got laid off from my job. I now realize that Insurance companies are run by a bunch of Automatons, who have no conscious or thought for human beings. Even now the battle to survive the Health care morass is not for the people who pay the exorbitant fees for service, but for the stockholders and elitists who run the for-profit business machine. Have you ever been denied drugs, because it was too expensive. Where insurance companies have ignored doctors prescriptions. Who have lied to you in some context or other, so they can benefit their own bottom line. Money!

Before I didn't understand what Universal health care--or a single payer system was? But now I am in total in agreement with its principles? Wellbeing should be for every legal American, no matter the circumstances?

The Single payer method is a huge reservoir of money, hopefully minus the middleman, who extracts his pound of flesh from the insured? As I see it, we don't need insurance companies anymore, nor billing businesses and an enormous amount of companies who are intermediates. We need the US federal government to run the whole matrix like in Europe. It will be a direct line to the health care providers, eye and dental, care, hospitals and specialists. We also need politicians who are honest and don't have a too-close a relationship with corporate America, Insurance companies, drug companies, and the special interest lobby?

THE PEOPLE can do this? They can fight for the Single payer system? Universal health care cannot be any worse than medical services already have, with sick people being denied assistance and medicine. Americans pay more for their pharmaceuticals, than the majority if not all nations around the world. Hundreds of sick people having to wait for unrealistic hours, in overcrowded hospitals including senior citizens to be seen. This is very wrong, although the wealthy individuals will disagree, because they always have the money to see a physician? Now that Democrats have made it a mandatory issue, we should contact them and demand the Single payer system and not listen to the critics, who always have something to gain. In the next few months we are going to get bombarded, with millions of dollars in Health insurance ads, determined to disintegrate any earthly chance at all? Americans must receive decent health care--without the worry of big premiums and co-pays. With Universal health care--it is not FREE--it's just you pay the government through extra taxes as in civilized foreign countries? Under Republican administration tied mostly to the Insurance industry, you will never see the chance. In UHC everybody pays into the system to receive decent medical care benefits.

Posted by: infinity555 | April 25, 2009 8:32 PM

I'm new to the political game but I'm really good at history. Remember what your teacher told you? History always repeats itself. Take a look at FDR and his policies......Scary huhhhhhhh. Its like he learned everything he knows from the king of screw-ups.

Posted by: hippe1907 | April 25, 2009 12:37 AM

Despite the "happy-talk" rhetoric by Summers, Geithner, Bernanke and of course, Wall Street about the economy, the Fed's zero interest rate policies, unlimited guarantees for bank debt, "fairy-tale" accounting standards, manipulation of security values and now the deficit ladden budget speak volumes about our totally dysfunctional economic system and ourselves!

Posted by: dgward44 | April 24, 2009 11:36 PM

tax tax tax tax this is going to be good i want to see you pay want to ride you dirt bike your atv sorry bad for the environment tax want to go to the lake with your boat or water craft bad for the environment tax there going to tax everything and your going to like it or stay home

Posted by: getsix1 | April 24, 2009 11:01 PM

face it the democrats are happy to get there dollar a day tax cut and there veterinary care obama promised them hey fanny and Freddy executives are getting there big bonuses with a thanks from the obama team do you know that out of all the trillions of dollars only less then 1 percent goes to the poor or middle class im telling you he is looking out for his followers

Posted by: getsix1 | April 24, 2009 10:27 PM

no one ever bothered to figure out that the rich will more then likely move up north. the Canadians are lowering there tax rates and there income tax. lower then the usa so between losing whats left of manufacturing there will not be any rich to tax so i guess they will have to tax you hey democrats love to pay taxes and i do hope they get lots of taxes

Posted by: getsix1 | April 24, 2009 10:20 PM

To markeclark: wow. You either are on the government cheese or just don't understand who is going to pay for this. Look in the mirror.

Ramming an ill-conceived health care system that is going to be a massive cost to the Public is the right thing to do? Along with the 3.5 Trillion what is another few TRILLION. Yes let's all high five and giggle and laugh until the check comes around. Hope you are at the front of the line with your check book ready to start covering this stupidity. The debt is estimated to run about $500,000.00 a person. Hope you have that in a cookie jar someplace.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | April 24, 2009 9:56 PM

Why are the Democrats limiting themselves on the use of reconciliation?
The GOP used it several times when they were in the majority. Most recently to ram Bush's tax plans through.
I say we go for the gusto. If it succeeds, the GOP will look like fools. Again.

Posted by: markeclark | April 24, 2009 9:35 PM

Wow you Spendocrats are clueless. When the bill comes due for all of this obscene spending and the economy does not improve who is going to pay for all these new entitlements? 3.5 TRILLION DOLLARS????/WTF!!!!! This is obscene. Start looking at what is happening in your city, town, district, county, State and Federal government. They are all desperately looking at increasing taxes, fees, charges, fines, penalties and any other sort of imaginable tax.

When the bill comes due for this ludicrous and bloated spending you Spendocrats are going to own it. Ramming this through is not the answer, just like ramming massive spending bills with one day to review is not sound government. This needs to be debated and each side heard to benefit all of us. When all of the smoke and dust settles and people realize how far in debt we are it will not be a happy day. They are estimating that the share of the debt for each child now born will be $500,000.00.

Of course when inflation and its ugly stepchild devaluation hit and a toaster oven costs $50,000.00 maybe $500,000.00 won't be too bad.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | April 24, 2009 8:27 PM

Lori, which is which? Will the Democrats use the reconciliation procedure or not? First you say no, then you seem to suggest they will. I have never been more confused reading an article on the WP than this.

Posted by: RickJohnson621 | April 24, 2009 7:17 PM

That'll give the GOP something substantial to be bitter about, for once. Give 'em hell, Obama!

Posted by: falasifa | April 24, 2009 2:49 PM

Attn: U.S. Taxpayers

Bend over and assume the position.

"Both moves would dramatically increase annual budget deficits compared with current law, but they could take effect only if the House moves to enact budget rules to prevent the deficit from rising even further. Fiscal conservatives in the House appeared to have lost their battle to force the Senate to hold a vote on those budget rules as well, aides said."

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | April 24, 2009 1:29 PM

"When you see the abuse of power, you've got to speak."

-- VP Joe Biden


Google it.

Any American -- YOU, or someone close to you -- could be its next victim.

Unless Team Obama -- especially AG Holder, SecDef Gates, SecDHS Napolitano, SecTreas Geithner -- take down the draconian Bush-Cheney extra-legal "torture matrix..." array of secret, extrajudicial "programs of personal financial destruction" and government-funded vigilante, terroristic "community stalking"...

...coupled with the proliferation of mind- and body-degrading "directed energy" microwave radiation weapons -- the Zyklon B of a grassroots, government-enabled American Gestapo that continues to "target" untold thousands, if not millions, of U.S. citizens...

...citizens who have not been charged with any crime, but who have been condemned by a covert American Gestapo to a life of "community gang-stalking" and physical degradation...

...tracked with covert GPS devices over a network known to EVERY police force in the nation -- and to federal security, military and intelligence operatives.

Attorney General Holder, you must act NOW to restore human and civil rights in America.

Before the naivete of liberals empowers the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who say "No!" to change.

OR (if links are corrupted/ disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 24, 2009 12:51 PM

Yes, bravo to the Democrats for finally having the cajones to play hardball. It's about time they learned that Republicans will never work with Democrats, so let's get health care passed while the gettin's good.

Posted by: sslatten3 | April 24, 2009 12:29 PM

It would be nice to be able to understand all the workings of the legislature. I am pleaaed to see that President Obama's first budget will be essentially unchanged. Now let's move on to the other big ticket issues. We've lost eight years and over $1 trillion in unneeded wars. We need to get ourselves back on the road to improvements here at home. According to the Republicans when they were in power, budget deficits do not mean anything.

Posted by: EarlC | April 24, 2009 11:41 AM

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