Since tomorrow is the big “virtual march” on Washington, when the so- called Democratic activists (yeah, I mean you, OFA) and interested others are supposed to flood the Congressional switchboards, faxes, and email to their Senators on the Eve of Destruction, er, the Thursday televised “Bipartisan” Health Care Summit Kabuki Theatre, to expedite the passing of the gallstone, er, The Health Insurance Bill, the Speaker of the House clarified the status of the President’s bill tweak tonight. The bill tweak was posted online yesterday.
This was posted late in The Hill this evening:
Pelosi: House Dems can support Obama healthcare proposal
“We’re very pleased with what the president put up on the Internet,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday at a news conference.
Pelosi did not object to the absence of a Public Option in President Obama’s version of the bill, altho she said it would be the preferred method, nor to putting an excise tax on on “high cost health care” plans to pay for it. (oh, nice message control there by the writer for not using the Reaganite “Cadillac Plans.”)
The White House bill includes a modified version of the tax that seeks to protect middle-class union members from paying it.
Pelosi endorsed that proposal, stating that “the pay-for in it is something that Democrats in the House can support.”
( If I had to make an educated guess, the unions that they have in mind here are the ones that work on government military contracts and projects such as the electrical, metal sheetworker, aerospace industry, shipbuilding, etc, and in turn donate to Democratic candidates. )
According to the wonk room think progress, with President Obama’s tweak of the Senate bill, there is a delay in starting the excise tax. This is a combination of kick the can down the road to 8 years in the future, and upping the amount of exemption for each policy before the 40% excise tax on policies worth over a certain amount kicks in. A double barreled kick, as it were. Because it’s very likely that policies are going to cost lots more in the near future, after we saw Wellpoint’s 39% proposed rate hikes this month. http://www.marketwatch.com/sto…
Obama’s Version- Excise tax – ‘Labor agreement’ for everyone. Changes effective date of the Senate policy from 2013 to 2018. Raises the amount of premiums that are exempt from the assessment from $8,500 for singles to $10,200 and from $23,000 for families to $27,500 and indexes these amounts for subsequent years at general inflation plus 1 percent.
There is also a payroll tax increase of zero point nine 0.9% percent on wages or salaries above a certain income, and a two point nine percent 2.9% assessment on unearned income. (“unearned” income is that which does not come from actual work performed for wages, but is from interest, dividends, investment gains, or things like rent).
According to The Hill story, the House will be voting on Wednesday on a repeal of the health insurance industry’s Anti Trust exemption, which would allow the Federal Trade Commission and Dept of Justice to combat collusion (aka evil cooperation to fix prices) between health insurance companies. They’ve had the exemption since 1945.
Since Senator Bennet wrote “the letter” to Majority Leader Reid, asking for the Senate to attempt to pass the Public Option by reconciliation with the House Bill, and several more Senators have signed on to it, and this was used to encourage the base to get all enthusiastic about the bill, again, what appears to be the official Mercy Killing of the Public Option Possibility by the White House on Tuesday was a bit…. awkward.
Just in case you haven’t read Glen Greenwald’s version of the Federal Senate imitating the California State Legislature’s Single Payer is just like Baby Seal Pups Routine ( it’s so cute, everybody’s for it, and then The Terminator Clubs It To Death Every Year) it’s here, only Greenwald calls it Villain Rotation.
This is what the Democratic Party does; it’s who they are. They’re willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there’s no chance that they can pass it. They won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections by pretending they wanted to compel an end to the Iraq War and Bush surveillance and interrogation abuses because they knew they would not actually do so; and indeed, once they were given the majority, the Democratic-controlled Congress continued to fund the war without conditions, to legalize Bush’s eavesdropping program, and to do nothing to stop Bush’s habeas and interrogation abuses (“Gosh, what can we do? We just don’t have 60 votes).
The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation. They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it. One minute, it’s Jay Rockefeller as the Prime Villain leading the way in protecting Bush surveillance programs and demanding telecom immunity; the next minute, it’s Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer joining hands and “breaking with their party” to ensure Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as Attorney General; then it’s Big Bad Joe Lieberman single-handedly blocking Medicare expansion; then it’s Blanche Lincoln and Jim Webb joining with Lindsey Graham to support the de-funding of civilian trials for Terrorists; and now that they can’t blame Lieberman or Ben Nelson any longer on health care (since they don’t need 60 votes), Jay Rockefeller voluntarily returns to the Villain Role, stepping up to put an end to the pretend-movement among Senate Democrats to enact the public option via reconciliation.
Greenwald posted it Tues am, a few hours later WH Press Secretary Gibbs was trying to convince the scribes and spectators that the White House thought it best not to try for the Public Option because “the votes just weren’t there.”
“We have seen obviously that though there are some that are supportive of this, there isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through,” Gibbs responded. “The president… took the Senate bill as the base and looks forward to discussing consensus ideas on Thursday.”
Gibbs refused to name the 8 to 10 Democratic Senators who would have to hold out to prevent a simple 51 vote majority of 50 plus VP Biden to pass anything in reconciliation. It is important to keep The Rotation refreshed, ready to rumble on call, and stashed in their secret location until needed.
Howard Dean did an interview on the MSNBC Chris Matthews show Tues. afternoon, and said that this bill could still be made more popular for the Democrats if they would add a Medicare buy- in for younger people, such as aged 55 or older. That would give people a tangible result that they could see right away, instead of having to wait years for the reforms to happen, plus that age group is getting hit very hard now by loss of insurance. People are familiar with Medicare and would understand that if it were compared to a public plan. Otherwise, he said the Democrats were possibly risking the loss of their majority status in the House and/or Senate this fall. This way they might only lose 25 seats. When Tweety badgered him he said he was still for passage of the bill but hoped to see it still be made better. It’s a very odd sensation to know that because Dean suggested it, and it makes sense, that it is likely to be ignored.