Why did the poor lose money in the new Senate bill?
As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the Senate bill's subsidies are, in general, more generous than the Senate Finance bill's subsidies, but a sliver of folks between 134 percent and 154 percent of the poverty line saw their help cut a bit. The dollar amounts involved here are pretty small -- someone at 134 percent of poverty will pay $80 more than under the Finance bill -- but it's worth correcting.
Luckily, Harry Reid has wiggle room. His bill clocks in at $849 billion over 10 years. That gives him $51 billion to play with before he hits $900 billion. And given that Obama's preferred cost was "around $900 billion," there's even more upward flexibility than that. But it would have been far easier if he had maxed out the subsidies when he was building the bill on his own, rather than leaving it for the floor of the Senate, where any changes will need 60 votes. When CBO came back at $849 billion, Reid could have quickly tossed in $40 billion of low-income subsidies before unveiling the bill. From here on out, the legislation is likely to get less generous, not more generous, as Nelson and Lieberman and Landrieu and Lincoln extract their pound of flesh.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke.
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