The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


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The Rundown

Long Fight Ahead After Finance Vote

By Ben Pershing
The Senate Finance Committee's stint in the driver's seat of the health-care debate is nearing its end, as the panel will vote Tuesday at long last to approve its reform bill and send it out to compete with the other four measures already approved by congressional committees.

The vote "is expected to underscore the deep partisan divisions that have emerged and hardened over five months of debate," the Washington Post writes. After all that work by Max Baucus in public and private to court Republicans, the only member of the minority who may vote with the majority is Olympia Snowe, and she has yet to telegraph her intentions. Politico Pulse goes through all of Snowe's considerations and how a yes vote or a no vote would be covered, and then concludes: "Snowe has left herself enough room that no matter how she votes today she'll be able to change it later." The Hill warns that Snowe could be "risking a shot" at the top GOP slot on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee if she votes with Democrats on health care.

Given that four other committees have already approved legislation, why all the fuss over Finance? The Associated Press reminds us that Finance's "moderate makeup most closely resembles the Senate as a whole. And the committee's centrist legislation is seen as the best building block for a compromise plan that could find favor on the Senate floor." Looking ahead, the New York Times examines the controversy over a proposed tax on "Cadillac" plans, which has drawn particular criticism in the House. The Wall Street Journal points out that once the two Senate bills are blended, they have to be vetted "with all Senate Democrats and analyzed by the [CBO], steps that would push back debate in the full Senate until the week of Oct. 26."

Continue reading at Political Browser »

Posted at 8:23 AM ET on Oct 13, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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Assuming that healthcare reform is not a cruel joke because of "directed energy weapon systems", political opposition is growing from BOTH sides of the aisle because of the proposed tax on so-called "Cadillac" health insurance. From the NYT link (above):

"In a preliminary estimate, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that absent any such employer efforts, 14 percent of family health policies and 19 percent of individual policies would be hit by the tax in 2013. By 2019, according to the estimate, 37 percent of family policies and 41 percent of individual policies would be affected. Those numbers rise over time in these calculations because although the initial tax threshold would increase with the economy’s overall inflation, premiums would be expected to rise even faster.

... House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the chamber’s chief tax-writer, oppose the idea, as do labor unions and businesses. Ms. Pelosi last week floated the idea of taxing insurers’ “windfall profits” as a possible alternative, to supplement the House’s main revenue raiser, an income tax surcharge on the nation’s highest earners.

At least 173 House Democrats, two-thirds of the party caucus, have signed a letter to Ms. Pelosi voicing opposition to the insurance tax.

“The tax, supposedly aimed at Cadillac health plans, would affect millions of middle-class people,” said Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut. “The American people soundly rejected the idea when it was proposed by Republicans in elections last year.”

Under current law, employer-paid premiums for health insurance are not taxable. Experts say this provides a big government subsidy for such coverage, and an incentive for businesses to provide better benefits in lieu of higher wages.

Posted by: JakeD | October 13, 2009 1:26 PM


In an unusual alliance reflecting the shared interest of some unions and businesses on the issue, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the United States Chamber of Commerce are mobilizing opposition to the tax.

James P. Gelfand, senior manager of health policy at the Chamber of Commerce, said that if the tax is imposed, “employers will have to reduce wages or benefits or increase cost-sharing.” And, he said, “employees will blame employers, not the government.”

Leaders of organized labor, which in recent years has often negotiated for benefits in place of raises, descended on Capitol Hill last week to lobby against the tax, which could hit many health plans covering unionized workers. Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, said at least half his members would be in health plans subject to the tax in 2013.

John P. Yrchik, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, has lobbied Mr. Courtney and other members of the state’s Congressional delegation, noting that the tax would affect teachers in 30 percent of Connecticut towns. In some towns, Mr. Yrchik said, health insurance premiums for teachers’ family policies already exceed $25,000."


Posted by: JakeD | October 13, 2009 1:25 PM


Where is the DOJ Civil Rights Division investigation into the covert use (read: TORTURE) of silent, harmful microwave and laser directed energy weapons systems on unjustly targeted Americans and their families by a Bush-legacy federal-local "multi-agency coordinated action program" that continues to commit civil and human rights violations under Team Obama...

...including government-enabled, warrantless GPS-activated, covert "community stalking" harassment, surreptitious home entries -- officially-enabled "black ops" domestic terrorism? OR RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 13, 2009 11:23 AM

The vote today is just another step until the final product is produced.

I am awaiting the final bill that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will offer after the closed door meetings that produce same. These meetings will include the special interests and lobbyists that will insert items that benefit themselves.

I hoped that Reid and Pelose had listened to the President when he stated that lobbyists would have no influence and the negotiations that produce the final bill would be televised on C-Span.

We can only hope that the CBO is allowed sufficient time to score the bill and that it is posted on the internet, for at least 72 hours, so the media and the public can try to figure out what is offered.

I can hope but I am a pessimist!

Posted by: mwhoke | October 13, 2009 10:24 AM

It is very distressing that our congress has not been able to put together bills that sufficiently obscures their political self-service, gifts to friends, contributors and family and including an excessive burden on the hard working U S middle class.

We used to be able to do this with our eyes closed.

Let's get our best minds working on this.

If this keeps up, the Elitists could be exposed and European socialism revealed for the cast system it is!

Posted by: DrMysterious | October 13, 2009 10:23 AM

This legislation needs to fail.

It's orders americans to buy health insurance from private for profit insurance companies, while not controlling the pay or profits of those companies.

Americans pay, Companies get their outragous profits.

Obama is a corporate shill

Posted by: tru-indy | October 13, 2009 9:46 AM

The biggest headache all along would be reconciling the more moderate Senate legislation with the wishes of House liberals. That will be the ugliest fight for the Dems and the president.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 13, 2009 9:41 AM

If the battle over healthcare reform is making you sick to your stomach, this musical parody is just what the doctor ordered! Check out “Healthcare Fighting (Kung Fu Mix)” at

Posted by: thincaboutit | October 13, 2009 9:16 AM

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