Posts Tagged ‘Senate Health Bill’

The Senate Republican’s letter to Harry Reid, & VIDEO

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Here’s the text of the letter that the 41 Senate Republicans sent Harry Reid telling him they will oppose waiving any violations of the “Byrd Rule” in moving parts of the health care bill through reconciliation:

March 4, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0001

Dear Leader Reid:

We understand from press reports and comments that you and the Speaker have made that the House and Senate will use the budget reconciliation process to overhaul our nation’s health care system, which represents 1/6th of our economy. We urge you to not use reconciliation to pass a partisan bill that is opposed by the majority of Americans.

The American people have been paying close attention to the health reform debate; they understand the issues being discussed and they have expressed broad opposition not only to the substance of the health reform bills, but also to the process by which those bills have been developed. According to a February 24 CNN poll, 73 percent of Americans believe Congress should either start over on an “entirely new bill” or not do health care reform at all this year. A Gallup survey released February 25 showed that the majority of Americans oppose using reconciliation to expedite passage of health reform legislation through the Senate.

Overhauling our health care system will affect every single American and is simply too important to be passed without broad bipartisan support. Yet, it is clear that the only reason you are considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass this unpopular bill is because you have not been able to attract any Republican support for your comprehensive health bill.

We recommend you rethink your plans of expediting such legislation through Congress over the strong objections of the American people. We urge you to listen to the advice of Senator Robert C. Byrd, who was quoted in the Washington Post on March 22, 2009:

I am certain that putting health-care reform and climate change legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted.

Using the reconciliation process to enact major legislation prevents an open debate about critical issues in full view of the public. Health reform and climate change are issues that, in one way or another, touch every American family. Their resolution carries serious economic and emotional consequences.

The misuse of the arcane process of reconciliation — a process intended for deficit reduction — to enact substantive policy changes is an undemocratic disservice to our people and to the Senate’s institutional role.

We agree with this assessment—misusing the Senate rules in this way would be a tremendous “disservice” to the American people and it is “an outrage” that we should resist.

In that regard, to endeavor to ensure that the reconciliation process is not used to fast-track an unpopular bill through Congress, we wish to inform you that we will oppose efforts to waive the so-called Byrd Rule during Senate consideration of any reconciliation bill concerning health reform. The Byrd Rule, as you know, was created by Senator Byrd to ensure that reconciliation bills were not used to enact policy changes, the primary purpose of which is not specifically related to the federal budget. As it takes 60 votes to waive the Byrd Rule, we can ensure that any provision that trips the Byrd Rule will be stripped from the bill, which will require that the bill be sent back to the House for further consideration and additional votes.

We urge you to abandon the use of reconciliation to pass a partisan bill that is opposed by the vast majority of Americans. Instead, we encourage you to work with us on a series of bipartisan bills that provide a step-by-step approach to reducing the cost of health care for Americans.

Senate sources also sent a video of Senators DeMint, Wicker, Coburn, and Thune—all former House members— talking about the Dems being responsible for passing the bill through the reconciliation tactic,

Two from Ace:
Constitutional Slaughter: Democrats Attempting Rule Change in House That Would Pass Senate Bill Without An Actual Vote on the Senate Bill,
and More on the Blatantly Unconstitutionally, Recklessly Illegal Slaughter “Rule:” Citizens Would Have Standing to Challenge, which links to Leon Wolfe at Red State,

Having determined that they lack the votes in the House to pass the Senate bills as-is, House Democrats are attempting one of the most breathtakingly unconstitutional power grabs ever witnessed – a maneuver to deem the Senate bill ALREADY PASSED by the House by rule, despite the fact that it clearly has not. Now, as we have constantly reminded our ahistorical liberal friends who have already forgotten all of 2002-2006, the filibuster is constitutional because it is a Senate rule of debate, which is expressly authorized by Article I’s delegation of power to each house of Congress to set its own rules of debate. Apparently, some Democrats can’t seem to tell the difference between a rule of debate and just declaring by rule that the House has passed a bill that they have not, when the Constitution itself expressly states that “in all [] Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays[.]” What Slaughter and Pelosi here are attempting here is a blatant violation of the principles of bicameralism and presentment.

And unlike other Unconstitutional things Congress does, there’s caselaw here suggesting pretty clearly that when Congress attempts to pass a law in the absence of proper bicameralism and presentment, a person negatively affected by Congress’s action (e.g., a person required to pay a fine for not having health insurance) has standing to challenge the law’s validity in the Courts. This farce is illegal and unconstitutional on its face, and someone has to be advising the Democrats in the House of this fact.

This is extremely troubling.

The President’s $1 trillion health bill

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

White House Unveils $950 Billion Health Bill To Bridge Differences Between House And Senate Legilsation.

One question:
How are we going to pay for this?

To finance the changes, President Obama proposes raising taxes even more than the Senate plan does. Under Obama’s proposal, higher income workers would see their portion of the Medicare payroll rise even higher. The tax would create a marriage penalty by applying to individuals earning over $200,000 and couples earning over $250,000. When the original version of the Senate health care bill was produced, the Medicare tax on those earning over $200,000 was supposed to be 0.5 percent. In the version that passed in December, the tax had been raised to 0.9 percent. And though it hasn’t even been made law yet, Obama is raising the Medicare tax for the third time, by assessing an additional 2.9 percent tax on income “from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties and rents…” This follows the historical pattern of payroll taxes, which have increased 20 times since first introduced in 1935, going from a combined total of 2 percent (including employer/employee contributions) to 12.4 percent today.

The Obama proposal would also raise the proposed tax on drug makers by $10 billion, to a combined $33 billion over 10 years, while delaying enactment by a year. It also delays enactment of the tax on medical devices and health insurers.

The Senate bill’s version of the individual mandate taxes those without health insurance by charging them either a flat dollar amount, or a percentage of income — whichever is higher. The Obama proposal lowers the flat dollar tax slightly (to $695 from $750 when phased in), but raises the percentage of income. This would result in even higher taxes for many individuals for whom the percentage of income is higher. For instance, when fully phased in, somebody earning $40,000 who chooses to go uninsured would be subject to a tax hike of $1,000.

And, may someone please explain to me how will giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, which are overburdened by government-ordered mandates to cover every thing including hangnails, make health care more competitive and affordable?

For instance,

What is most disturbing about the President’s latest proposal, and similar ones in Congress, is the apparent lack of understanding that one of the most basic purposes of insurer financial regulation is not to prevent “price-gouging,” but rather to prevent the problems that occur if insurers under-price their products. Specifically, if an insurer fails to charge enough in premiums to cover its expected claims costs, then it is at risk of being unable to make good on the promises made to its customers. That can leave policyholders with worthless coverage or spark demands for government bailouts that impose on taxpayers the cost of covering the losses.

Be assured of this:

Government determining insurance premiums is the same as government determining what services can be offered.

While the government mandates what services can be covered now, the limitation on rate increases means the rationing of care. The insurance companies will cease providing coverage, which will mean the government will be the sole provider of medical coverage.

And for starters, it’ll cost $1 trillion.

Now, how much did they say Medicare was going to cost?

Just how much will the Obama Administration’s Health Care Proposal cost?
Your guess is as good as any. The Congressional Budget Office cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal.

Roundup: Senate approves healthcare bill

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Top story today, and will be adding bloggers’ reactions to the roundup throughout the day:
Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill

The 60-to-39 party-line vote,

The Dems own this one; can’t be blaming Bush if when doesn’t play out the way they want it, but I digress

on the 25th straight day of debate on the legislation, brings Democrats a step closer to a goal they have pursued for decades. It clears the way for negotiations with the House, which passed a broadly similar bill last month by a vote of 220 to 215.

If the two chambers can strike a deal, as seems likely, the resulting product would vastly expand the role and responsibilities of the federal government. It would, as lawmakers said repeatedly in the debate, touch the lives of nearly all Americans.

The bill would require most Americans to have health insurance, would add 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls and would subsidize private coverage for low- and middle-income people, at a cost to the government of $871 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Wall Street Journal is running a poll Do you support the Senate bill to overhaul health care?

At the blogs:
Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: An “Unusually Good Bill Clinton”

Megan McArdle: The Process of Passing Health Care

Victor the Contractor: A Merry Christmas for Congress from Victor the Contractor

Power Line: Arrogance, corruption, stupidity, also posted at True North: Arrogance, corruption, stupidity

Gateway Pundit: Unpopular President Welcomes Government Takeover of Health Care Industry (Video)

A. J. Strata: Go Home Dems – Stop Trying To Play Santa Claus

Scared Monkeys: It’s Official … Senate Passes Obamacare Along Partisan Democrat Vote, 60-39

Earlier today:
Q&O: “Health Care Reform” Passes The Senate, Lady Liberty Passes Out

Ace’s Purple Avenger: Hey, lets just revisit the ObamaCare™ campaign promises eh?

Dan Riehl: Shouts Of “Death To America” As Senate Dems Don HC Bomb

Ed Morrissey: This had about as much suspense as Avatar, but

This goes back to the House, and then likely back again to the Senate, and perhaps even a stop in a conference committee if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can’t avoid it. Meanwhile, the appraisal by voters of this effort will continue to get worse and worse, and this will continue to be an albatross around the neck of Democrats in 2010.

Ramesh Ponnuru says It’s Not Over
Health-care legislation could still fail in the House.

Senator Lamar Alexander, in a press release that I just received, states,

“The Senate health bill will prove to be an historic mistake if this or anything like it is ultimately signed by the president. Congress set out to reduce health care costs to Americans and Democrats have managed to do the exact opposite. Their written-in-secret bill will increase health insurance premiums, raise taxes, cut Medicare and dump millions of Americans into Medicaid. For Tennessee, Medicaid’s expansion and the bill’s ‘sweetheart deals’ would cost our state more than $750 million over five years when fully implemented, forcing tax increases or damaging higher education—or both.

“Instead, we should start over and move step-by-step to reduce health care costs using the steps that Republicans have repeatedly proposed: let small businesses pool resources for health insurance; allow purchasing of health insurance across state lines; end junk lawsuits against doctors; eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse; expand health savings accounts; and promote wellness and prevention.”

Andy McCarthy sees Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Via Instapundit, Peter Wehner on The culture of corruption.

Don Surber: Obamacare 60, the will of the people 39

More links later.

The Senate bill that stole Christmas in today’s podcast

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009


Billed by the Washington Post as the bill that stole Christmas, after whoring in Cash for Cloture, senators are stuck in DC,

With the final vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act slated to start after sundown Dec. 24, senators and hundreds of their health policy analysts, press secretaries and other aides — not to mention the universe of police officers, clerks and student pages who keep the place humming — wishing to be with their families will instead spend the holiday in Washington. And there’s a possibility the Senate could be called back next week, to take up debt-limit legislation.

In today’s podcast at 11AM, Rick Moran talks about how REFORM IS A TRIUMPH OF PROCESS OVER PRUDENCE. Join us live, and you can listen to the archived podcast at your convenience.

At Red State, Erick Erickson posts, We Are No Longer a Nation of Laws. Senate Sets Up Requirement for Super-Majority to Ever Repeal Obamacare

The Senate Democrats declare a super-majority of senators will be needed to overrule any regulation imposed by the Death Panels

Upon examination of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment to the health care legislation, Senators discovered section 3403. That section changes the rules of the United States Senate.

To change the rules of the United States Senate, there must be sixty-seven votes.

Section 3403 of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment requires that “it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” The good news is that this only applies to one section of the Obamacare legislation. The bad news is that it applies to regulations imposed on doctors and patients by the Independent Medicare Advisory Boards a/k/a the Death Panels.

Section 3403 of Senator Reid’s legislation also states, “Notwithstanding rule XV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, a committee amendment described in subparagraph (A) may include matter not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Finance if that matter is relevant to a proposal contained in the bill submitted under subsection (c)(3).” In short, it sets up a rule to ignore another Senate rule.

Go read Erick’s post.

How’s that hope and change working for you now?

VIDEO via Ed:

A quick roundup of Cash For Cloture posts

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Michelle Malkin has a
Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II
. Some of her highlights:

1. Sen. Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback.”
2. New England’s Special Syrup.
3. Corruptocrat Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s Christmas wish: Hospital helper.
4. “Some insurers are more equal than others” tax exemption.
5. The Frontier Freebie.
6. More Democrat hospital bennies.
7. Bernie Sanders’ socialized medicine sop.
8. Fla.-Pa.-NY Protectionism.

If you review Michelle’s items, you’ll find that six of the items on her list directly involve Medicare and Medicaid, the existing government healthcare programs … that are broke.

Outside the Beltway correctly points out that

This is how our system works and has worked since time immemorial. Discussions of logrolling and pork barrel politics have been part of introductory American politics courses since, oh, the advent of introductory American politics courses. The terms were coined in 1835 (by Davy Crockett, no less) and 1863 (by Edward Everett Hale). Let’s just say Harry Reid didn’t invent them.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shine a light on these abuses. By all means, we should. But let’s not pretend that they’re a recent invention.

Others posting on Cash for Cloture:
Mark Steyn at The Corner
Gateway Pundit: Cash for Cloture: Harry Reid’s Vote Buying Cost Taxpayers $1.2 Billion
Politico: Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes
Common Sense and Wonder
The Fox Nation

Cash For Cloture: Obamacare Bill is So Bad It Has to Be Rammed Through In Middle of The Night
Obamacare Passage: Democratic “Suicide Pact”
Democrats Had Agreed To Work Through Christmas

Punishing success, one healthcare bill at a time

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Senate healthcare bill steepens payroll tax for high-earners in 2013, of course, after the 2012 election,

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released a manager’s amendment to the healthcare bill finalizing its legislative language on Saturday morning that contained a provision increasing the payroll tax beyond levels called for in the initial Senate bill.

Where the first version of the bill called for a 0.5 percent additional tax on high-earning Americans’ FICA and SECA taxes, the manager’s amendment increases the levy to a 0.9 percent rate.

The tax, which would begin in 2013, would apply to incomes in excess of $250,000 for a joint tax return and over $200,000 for any other tax filing.

Which reminds me of the Alternative Minimum Tax when it was first proposed.

How’s that AMT working for you now? I almost never quote from Wikipedia, but this is accurate

Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation and because of recent tax cuts,[2][9] an increasing number of middle-income taxpayers have been finding themselves subject to this tax.

Any voter’s regrets, high earners who gave the Dems control of the Congress and put Obama in office, or are you waiting until 2013?


And, by the way, if you don’t fit in the “high earner” category and think this won’t affect you, think again:
The manager’s amendment also increases the tax on medical devices, levies a tax on “indoor tanning services,” and increases the penalty for violation of the mandate for families with incomes of more than $37,500.

Franken’s snit against Lieberman

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Material for a Saturday Night Live skit,
Franken shuts down Lieberman on Senate floor

Franken was presiding over the Senate Thursday afternoon as Lieberman spoke about amendments he planned to offer to the bill. Lieberman asked for an additional moment to finish — a routine request — but Franken refused to grant the time.

“In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object,” Franken said.

“Really?” said Lieberman. “OK.”

Red State has it on video:

While Franken’s spokesperson said time limits were strictly enforced due to the urgency of the bill, Michelle Malkin noticed that

Harry Reid is nearly an hour late to the Senate floor to make a motion to adjourn.

After he got there, Harry blamed the Republicans.

Well, at least Harry didn’t blame Lieberman.

Lefties swarm on Lieberman

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

John McCormack has the details:

>From the halls of the Senate to left-wing blogs and the Washington Post, Democrats have been busy the past day viciously attacking Joe Lieberman for saying that he’ll filibuster a bill with a Medicare buy-in provision.

An anonymous senior Senate aide says that Lieberman double-crossed Harry Reid; liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, last seen putting the senator in blackface, is trying to drive Lieberman’s wife from a position on a breast cancer charity; and Washington Post blogger and omniscient child pundit Ezra Klein writes that Lieberman “seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.” (The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait seconds Klein’s sentiment–“[Lieberman] seems to view the prospect of sticking it to the liberals who supported his Democratic opponent in 2006 as a goal potentially worth sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of Americans to fulfill”–and adds that he thinks Lieberman is stupid.) All of this from the folks who attack the GOP for its “ideological conformity.”

In a followup post, Klein writes that his contention that Lieberman would cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of out of spite is “not a particularly controversial statement. It relies on data from the Institute of Medicine and the Urban Institute, both of which are credible sources.”

Going by what Klein says, you’d think “the science is settled”, on that.

But it is not.

Michael Cannon explains,

Indeed, health insurance does have a connection to mortality. But I’m pretty sure Klein doesn’t know what it is, mostly because people with more expertise and fewer axes to grind don’t know what it is.

For example, a careful study by health economists Amy Finkelstein and Robin McKnight found that in its first 10 years, Medicare had no discernible impact on elderly mortality rates. The authors hypothesize that prior to Medicare, seniors who lacked coverage largely got the care that they needed either by paying out of pocket or relying on public or private charity. Whether Medicare had any impact on elderly mortality after its first 10 years remains an open question.

Or consider a study by Richard Kronick, a professor of family and preventive medicine at U.C.-San Diego and a former health policy adviser to the Clinton administration. Kronick performed the largest-ever study on the health effects of being uninsured and concludes that the IOM estimate “is almost certainly incorrect.” Kronick concludes that “the best available evidence” suggests “there would not be much change in the number of deaths in the United States as a result of universal coverage.”

How can that be, when Ezra Klein finds his own argument so “intuitive“? Kronick admits “it is not clear” why the data produce such a counterintuitive result, but posits that existing channels “may provide ‘good enough’ access to care for the uninsured to keep their mortality rate similar to that of the insured.”

Economists Helen Levy of the University of Michigan and David Meltzer of the University of Chicago surveyed the entire economics literature on the connection between health insurance and health. They conclude, “The central question of how health insurance affects health, for whom it matters, and how much, remains largely unanswered at the level of detail needed to inform policy decisions.”

However, the personal attacks go on. Sister Toldjah asks,

How can Ezra Klein call Joe Lieberman pro-”death of hundreds of thousands of people”
… when Klein himself, a longtime proponent of socialized healthcare, is in favor of the public option, which in effect will give the existing Medicare panel more power to decide who gets what healthcare – as a form of “cost control”?

Don’t expect the left to leave Lieberman alone – he’s become their version of a global warming “denialist”.

What must really get the left irked, however, is that they know that the Dems need him to pass the bill.


Please note there will be no podcasts today or tomorrow.

Government actuaries: Senate Health Bill Will Raise Costs

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Report: Senate Health Bill Will Raise Costs

The report, compiled by the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, estimated that total health costs in the U.S. would be $234 billion higher than if the bill weren’t passed. President Barack Obama has said Democrats’ health plan would reduce the growth of health-care costs.

The report said 33 million more U.S. citizens and legal residents would be insured under the bill, resulting in 93% of Americans with health-insurance coverage. But it said the new demand for health care caused by the bill could prove “difficult to meet initially” because doctors and hospitals would charge higher fees in response to the new demand. The report also said the bill’s proposed cuts in Medicare spending “may be unrealistic.”

In addition to expanding coverage, the Senate bill creates a long-term-care insurance program that would provide a daily subsidy for those with disabilities and illnesses who require home-based care. The report cited a risk of “adverse selection,” saying people who were more likely to require care would be more likely to use the new insurance. That could cause insurance payouts to exceed premium revenue.

“There is a very serious risk that the problem of adverse selection would make the [long-term-care insurance] program unsustainable,” the report said.

Hardly surprising, Do Nothing, Majority Says
ObamaCare is now almost as unpopular as it is monstrous.

a CNN poll found that an even bigger majority–61%–oppose the Senate’s version of the ObamaCare bill.