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Public Option Vote Expected Tomorrow in Senate Finance Cmte

NYT reports Sen. Reid won’t include public option in bill presented to full Senate: “Democratic aides said that while the combined legislation would not have the public option, they expected that liberals would push amendments to add it on the Senate floor.” The Plum Line to seek confirmation from Reid’s office later today.

Reid supports “trigger” compromise in Las Vegas Sun interview: “‘My first choice is a public option, because I think it will create competition and make the insurance companies more honest,’ Reid said Thursday. ‘My No. 2 choice is the trigger that Snowe talked about.’ Reid said that he preferred the trigger, ‘which is a pretty doggone good idea,’ to the proposed co-operative model some moderate Democrats support.” Walker Report notes Bill Clinton endorsed trigger deal as well.

Public option vote expected in Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, not expected to pass, but could still build momentum. The Hill: “Rockefeller, Schumer and likeminded liberal senators begrudgingly acknowledge the votes are not there in the committee for the public option. But they intend to force their colleagues to take a stand on the issue and possibly face the wrath of powerful interests such as labor unions and grassroots liberal activists … More votes on the public option are promised once the bill hits the Senate floor.”

Insurance lobby wants tougher penalties to enforce individual mandate, ensure they get all potential new customers. WSJ: “Mr. Baucus … proposed reducing a fine he originally proposed for uninsured Americans who fail to comply with the mandate. That raises the possibility that some healthy Americans will do the math and conclude that it is cheaper to remain uninsured — paying the fine and avoiding the coverage premiums. Heath insurers are trying to forestall that possibility, warning that uninsured people could wait until they got sick to purchase coverage, driving up the costs for people who have insurance. The industry’s lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the original mandate envisioned was already too weak.”

Baucus bill would grant rulemaking power to private insurance group. LA Times: “…the bill would allow the [National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners] to write many of the new rules on issuing and marketing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans who would be required to purchase policies … ‘The NAIC is clearly an organization that is dominated by the insurance industry,’ said California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a former state insurance commissioner … The group’s 56 members are public officials — the elected or appointed chief insurance regulators of the states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories … But the association itself is a private organization not subject to open meetings and public records law.”

Rockefeller seeks to expand consumer protections. USA Today: “More than 70 million people who work at large companies would not get health insurance protections sought by President Obama under [the Baucus bill] … Rockefeller has proposed expanding the insurance regulations to cover everyone in an amendment he hopes will be considered this week. A spokeswoman for Sen. Max Baucus … said the protections are targeted to employees of small businesses and people who buy insurance on their own because they have the most trouble obtaining good coverage.”

Climate Bill Struggles Attract Brighter Spotlight

CQ cover amplifies skepticism that climate bill can pass Senate, global treaty can be forged this year: “On the domestic front, the Senate appears so consumed with the health care debate that it is likely to defer action until next year on climate change legislation … That deprives the White House of tangible evidence that it is bringing the United States into a carbon-constrained world and a concrete set of domestic targets it can try to incorporate into a new global treaty. And on the foreign front, Team Obama finds itself at odds with Europe over the central details of what a new treaty might look like, including how much aid to give developing countries and how to calculate national emissions reductions. U.S. officials also are trying to navigate a complicated diplomatic relationship with China, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, which used the Sept. 22 U.N. gathering to announce that it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions relative to economic output without saying how ambitious the goal would be or whether it would lock in the cuts as part of an international framework. Few expect Congress to embrace any new global climate pact without concrete commitments from Beijing.”

Mother Jones’ David Corn interprets Center for America Progress G-20/climate statement as
“a big hint that the White House is looking to dramatically downplay expectations. ThinkProgress posts Podesta’s sharp retort: “[Corn] is a lousy tealeaf reade … we are confident that the international community is poised to make substantial progress on climate change in Copenhagen, and that the U.S. is now in a position to exercise renewed leadership in pursuit of a best-case climate scenario.” ClimateProgress’ Joe Romm furthers plants flag for optimism: “…the news from China, India, Japan, and this country is far more positive toward the possibility of agreement than it has been for a decade or longer. This is, finally, the one brief shining moment for action.”

The New Yorker criticizes Obama for pushing climate change quickly, and not quick enough: “When the President proposed that Congress take up a climate bill along with health-care legislation and, on top of that, regulatory reform, he made an enormous gamble. This gamble, at some point, could have been called bold; increasingly, it just seems naïve … in order for this to happen, Obama is going to have to move climate change to the top of his agenda—quickly.”

Krugman adds to the urgency in NYT column — “I’m not … saying that the Obama administration was wrong to push health care first … But climate change legislation had better be next.” — and debunks conservative economic arguments in blog post.

Boxer and Kerry introduce Senate climate bill Wednesday. ClimateWire: “The bill’s authors said last week that they expect to start hearings early next month on the bill, with a markup in Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee to follow soon thereafter. They also acknowledged that their legislation is just a ‘starting point’ in a bid to win over moderate and conservative Democrats, as well as Republicans … Exactly what is the same in the [House and Senate] bills remains to be seen. As for differences, Senate Democratic aides say they expect the legislation to divert from the House bill’s 17 percent emissions target for 2020 and go with an even more aggressive 20 percent limit. The bill also will stay silent on exactly how the Senate should divide up emission allowances … [Sen. Sherrod] Brown said he did not expect the Boxer-Kerry bill to include language adopted in the House that tries to assist energy-intensive manufacturing industries, including steel, pulp and paper and cement. ‘My understanding is they did not include the House language on manufacturing,’ Brown added. ‘But I’ve been talking to them about it. They are very open to it. They are in no way dismissive.'”

Grist reports G-20 pledges to end fossil fuel subsidies: “Despite the disappointment of activists, the commitment on the part of G20 leaders to cut fossil-fuel subsidies is an important step, assuming they follow through on their pledge. Fossil-fuel subsidies add up to around $300 billion across the G20 major world economies … eliminating the subsidies would reduce global greenhouse-gas pollution 10 to 12 percent by 2050.”

Longtime carbon cap opponent and purveyor of truthiness Bjorn Lomborg gets another oped attacking any action to protect climate in W. Post: “…the real tragedy is that, by exaggerating the threat of global warming, we have awoken the beast of protectionism … [coal] as helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

WSJ reports stimulus for smart electric grid boosting tech firms: “…technology companies are sensing better times ahead with the influx of $4.5 billion in federal stimulus funds for so-called smart-grid projects. The federal grants are expected to speed transformation of the power grid from a largely electromechanical system into a digital network that gives utilities more efficient ways to send electricity to customers. That could help cut pollution and electric bills.”

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