8 a.m. ET: After months of closed-door negotiations and irritated lawmakers parading in and out of Nancy Pelosi's office, the House's health-care reform bill is finally ready for its closeup.
The measure will be unveiled at 10:30 am Thursday at a pomp-and-circumstance event on the West Front of the Capitol. The Washington Post writes that the bill "includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved." Politico gets more details of the work in progress: "The CBO analysis will show that the bill runs surpluses in the first five years and deficits in the second, making it deficit neutral during the first decade. ... A permanent doc fix will be carved out of the reform bill and introduced separately today without pay-fors. ... Drug makers are also getting shellacked. They’re looking at between $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts – almost twice the $80 billion they agreed to under the White House deal. ... There’s also a 2.5 percent tax on device manufacturers. The bill covers 36 million additional people and, depending on how it’s counted, comes in under $900 billion." The Associated Press adds, "The bill would require nearly everyone by 2013 to sign up through their employer, a government program or a new kind of purchasing pool called an exchange. ... During the transition years from 2010-2013, a temporary government program would help people turned down by private insurers because of medical problems, lawmakers said."
As for the bill's offsets, it will include the so-called "millionaire's tax" -- the New York Times says "the tax would hit married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000." And the Wall Street Journal notes that "The legislation would require companies with a payroll of $500,000 or more to offer health coverage to employees, or pay a penalty of at least 2% of payroll." The Los Angeles Times contrasts the House's coverage numbers with those of the Senate Finance Committee bill, with would only cover 29 million additional people, and explains that the House measure "will include a complex mechanism for limiting the use of taxpayer subsidies for abortion services: Insurance companies that offer abortion coverage would be required to segregate funds received from consumers from subsidies provided by the federal government."
Does the fact that House leaders are ready to unveil the bill mean that they have 218 votes? No -- if they did, the bill would be on the floor this week, not next week. But it does mean that a majority is in sight, something that was not true of the version that included the public option pegged to Medicare rates favored by the left. Under the headline "Liberals Wave the White Flag," Roll Call writes that supporters of the robust public option "appear ready to fold" in the wake of Pelosi's decision. Politico adds that, for many liberals, "Pelosi seemed to get points for trying" to get the more robust public option, before concluding that the votes simply weren't there.
In the Senate, Harry Reid continues his campaign to bring wavering moderates on board. Roll Call writes that "Reid has focused on just getting the bill to the floor, betting that once debate begins, Democrats will have a hard time voting against it." Jonathan Cohn reminds centrists like Evan Bayh that "filibustering reform would mean thwarting the will of a majority of senators representing no less than 61 percent of the population." While Reid and the White House are singing from the same songbook now, TPMDC reconstructs the talks that preceeded Reid's announcement, a discussing that began with the question, "Who's going to take the blame when the public option doesn't make it in to the base health care bill?" and ended with Reid deciding to include the provision after all.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the business community's new offensive against the public option component of the Senate bill, noting that both the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable (which has been more amiable toward the Obama administration on some topics) are both lobbying hard against the provision. On that subject, The Hill writes, "Senate Republicans have grown frustrated with large and small business trade associations for not helping enough to oppose the Democratic healthcare overhaul," singling out the Business Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Business for scrutiny. As for public opinion, the New York Times takes a fresh look at polling data on the public option, concluding that "once again that public opinion on this issue shifts and shimmies depending on how you phrase the question and what you strip away from (or add to) a compound sentence." The Fix observes that Republicans may be erring by focusing their attacks so much on the relatively popular public option, when there are other parts of Democrats' reform bills that are more controversial.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer of the remains of seven U.S. soldiers and three DEA personnel who had been killed in Afghanistan. The unannounced visit comes as his administration continues to plod through its options for going forward in the conflict. The Washington Post writes that Obama "has asked senior officials for a province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help." Echoing other recent reporting, the AP writes that Obama "is considering a scaled-down version of the war plan advanced by his top Afghanistan commander," a strategy that would focus on protecting infrastructure and population centers and has been dubbed "McChrystal Light."
The White House, meanwhile, is pushing back against a pair of negative stories. After The Washington Times reported Thursday that big donors to Obama and the Democratic National Committee were getting special access to administration officials and the White House itself, the administration tried to play down the report. But it still got followed by other outlets Thursday. USA Today comes at the donor issue from a different angle, reporting that "more than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas."
And the AP also ruffled feathers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, writing that "an early progress report on ... Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program." The White House strongly criticized the story Thursday morning, calling it a "misleading" look at early numbers that did not account for the fact that many of the errors described in the piece had already been fixed before publication.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.