Senate Leaders Begin Difficult Task of Merging Health Care Reform Bills

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Reid, who has said he wants to complete the wedding quickly and get historic health care overhaul legislation onto the floor the week after next.

WASHINGTON — Health care talks slip back behind closed doors Wednesday as Senate leaders start trying to merge two very different bills into a new version that can get the 60 votes needed to guarantee its passage.

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has said he wants to complete the wedding quickly and get historic health care overhaul legislation onto the floor the week after next.

Both bills were written by Democrats, but that’s not going to make it easier for Reid. They share a common goal, which is to provide all Americans with access to affordable health insurance, but they differ on how to accomplish it.

The Finance Committee bill that was approved Tuesday has no government-sponsored insurance plan and no requirement on employers that they must offer coverage. It relies instead on a requirement that all Americans obtain insurance.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, passed earlier by a panel in which liberals predominate, calls for both a government plan to compete with private insurers and a mandate that employers help cover their workers. Those are only two of dozens of differences.

President Barack Obama acknowledges it’s not going to be easy. Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden, Obama called the 14-9 Finance Committee vote “a critical milestone” toward getting a health care overhaul this year. The legislation won its first Republican support when Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine broke ranks with her party, saying she was answering the call of history.

Obama wasn’t ready to bask in the bipartisan glow.

“Now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back,” he said. “Now is the time to dig in and work even harder.”

There was no victory lap either for Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana. “The bottom line here is we need a final bill, a merged bill, that gets 60 votes,” he said. “Our goal is to pass health care reform, not just talk about it.”

Read the rest @ FoxNews.com

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Keep It Simple- What a Republican health-care plan should look like.

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Jeffrey H. Anderson

The American people haven’t been shy about expressing their views on health-care reform. In the polls and at public events nationwide, they’ve made it clear that they don’t want a behemoth bill that would fundamentally transform a health-care system that works well for most Americans and which offers a level of care that is largely the envy of the world. But they are also understandably concerned about health care’s rising costs, its lack of portability, and the ten percent of Americans who are uninsured. They want to see these pressing problems be addressed, but in a sensible and moderate way.

The bill proposed by Senator Max Baucus does not answer Americans’ call. The Baucus bill is the real health-care bill, the bill on which the Obama administration is implicitly pinning its hopes. But it defiantly turns a deaf ear to the American people.

Seniors have been quite vocal in their concern that health-care legislation would degrade the quality of Medicare, yet the Baucus bill would gut the popular Medicare Advantage program and would pay for its own huge price-tag primarily through cuts to Medicare and related federal health programs. Seniors won’t relish robbing from Medicare to pay for BaucusCare, especially when Medicare is perhaps already the least fiscally solvent program in the United States. But the Baucus bill treats Medicare as if it were a money tree, providing a steady supply of cash to spend elsewhere.

Americans have said that they want more choice and freedom in health care, yet the Baucus bill would mandate that all Americans buy a government-approved insurance plan and would fine them if they don’t. Americans are weary of the federal government’s profligate spending and intrusiveness, yet the Baucus bill is full of Byzantine regulations that only a lawyer could love, and–according to the Congressional Budget Office–it would cost a mind-boggling $2.9 trillion over 20 years while increasing taxes by $2.0 trillion over that same span.

Furthermore, Americans want insurance to be more affordable. Yet the Baucus bill’s requirement that insurers cover all comers–at the same price, at any time–would lead millions to pay the government its fine (still much less than the cost of a premium), quit carrying insurance year-round, and repurchase it only when the immediate need arises. Everyone else’s insurance premiums would skyrocket.

The American people don’t want any of this. They don’t want a huge bill. Instead, they want a small bill that addresses their central concerns without opening the door to far greater..

Read more at the Weekly Standard.com

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Senate 2010: Most endangered seats

Posted on October 11, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By CHARLES MAHTESIAN

The 2010 Senate landscape is almost evenly split down the middle: Republicans will be defending 18 seats, while the Democrats will be defending 19 seats, including the January special election in Massachusettes for the full watch list.
Connecticut

Chris Dodd, a five-term Democrat, is arguably the party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbent — just look at the lengthy list of Republicans who are champing at the bit to take him on. Dodd has experienced marked improvement in his poll ratings in recent months, a development no doubt assisted by the Senate Ethics Committee’s August dismissal of complaints alleging that Dodd and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had received special mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial. Yet the committee also noted that the two should have “exercised more vigilance” to avoid the appearance that they received preferential treatment, so the issue isn’t entirely wiped away. Leading the crowded GOP field is former three-term Rep. Rob Simmons, who was defeated for reelection in 2006. Simmons has led Dodd in head-to-head polling matchups for months; Quinnipiac had him at a 5-percentage-point advantage in mid-September.

Nevada

The only thing stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from being rated as the most vulnerable Democratic senator is the quality of his opposition. Republicans struggled for months to come up with a top-tier challenger to Reid, despite his anemic ratings in the polls. Now the GOP has at least three prospective challengers — former state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden, state Sen. Mark Amodei and businessman Danny Tarkanian — but none of them has ever run a race quite like this or against a smash-mouth opponent quite like Reid. If the GOP nominee turns out to be equal to the task, the general election may end up resembling the epic 2004 South Dakota battle between then- Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican John Thune, fueled by national money and contingent on whether the challenger can convince voters that Reid’s power hasn’t translated into results for Nevada — which is suffering from high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Read more: Politico.com

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Rangel Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Pelosi Says

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Charlie Rangel | Tags: , , , , , , |

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that there is a “bipartisan process” in place that should be allowed to finish before the fate of Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is decided.

By Cristina Corbin

Innocent until proven guilty — that’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to remove New York Rep. Charles Rangel from his powerful chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.

As the House Ethics Committee investigates a string of allegations against Rangel, who represents New York’s Harlem district, a spokesman for Pelosi said Friday that the “bipartisan process” should be allowed to finish before the congressman’s fate is decided. 

The committee voted unanimously Thursday to expand its probe of Rangel, who faces numerous allegations spanning several years, including alleged failure to pay taxes and disclose as much as $1.3 million in income that he earned from multiple properties.

Pelosi thinks removing Rangel from the chairmanship of the powerful tax-writing committee before the ethics probe is completed would undermine the American principle of innocent until proven guilty, said Drew Hammill, the speaker’s spokesman. He said Pelosi does not believe her decision weakens the public perception of congressional ethics. 

“We have a bipartisan process in place. It should be allowed to finish,” Hammill told FOXNews.com. “We are confident the committee will conduct a thorough review and then report to the full House.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer echoed Pelosi’s position, telling FOXNews.com that “yesterday’s statement shows that the bipartisan ethics committee is doing its work.”

A handful of House and Senate members have been the subjects of government ethics probes, and there appears to be no record of anyone ever being stripped from a committee role pending the outcome of an active investigation.

Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., resigned from office in 1995, a day after the Senate Ethics Committee recommended he be expelled from office for abuse of power, including “repeatedly committing sexual misconduct” and “engaging in a deliberate… plan to enhance his personal financial position.”

In 1982, Sen. Harrison Williams, D-N.J., resigned after an ethics committee found that his conduct in the Abscam scandal, a public corruption investigation, was “ethically repugnant.” Williams — along with five members of the House and one member of the New Jersey State Senate — was convicted on numerous charges, including conspiracy, bribery, and conflict of interest.

Read more at FoxNews.com

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Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE

Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE.

Step Two: Next, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take the final product of the Senate Finance Committee and merge it with the product of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. CNSnews.com has confirmed that “the actual final text of the legislation will be determined by Reid himself, who will consolidate the legislation approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the still-unapproved legislation from the Senate Finance Committee. Reid will be able to draft and insert textual language that was not expressly approved by either committee.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will write the final version of Obamacare to be considered in the Senate with no input from the American people. This is an extremely complex procedure that will not be done in public, or in the form of a hearing, or a public conference committee, and only Senator Harry Reid, some other Senators chosen by Reid and Obama Administration officials will be allowed to read the bill before the Senate debate starts. Merger of the bills – IN PROGRESS.

Read the rest Blog. Heritage.org

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