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GOP Still Rejects Health Care Reform After Proof It Can Cut Deficit

CBO predicts Senate Finance health care bill will cut deficit $81B over 10 years, yet no Republican gets on board. W. Post: "White House budget director Peter Orszag applauded the analysis, saying the bill 'demonstrates that we can expand coverage and improve quality while being fiscally responsible,' ... senior Republicans seemed only to harden in their opposition to the measure ... [Sen. Olympia] Snowe said Wednesday that she was relieved to see that the cost of expanding coverage remained below Obama's limit of $900 billion over the next decade. 'But we have a lot to review,' she said. She urged Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to wait until next week for a final vote. 'It's a critical vote. . . . I would rather have the comfort level of having had sufficient time to analyze it.'"

The Treatment's Jonathan Cohn laments the savings derived from covering less people: "CBO estimates that, as of 2019, 94 percent of legal non-elderly residents and 91 percent of all non-elderly residents would have insurance. That's significantly lower than the projections from the House bill, which would result in corresponding figures of 97 percent and 94 percent. In raw numbers, it's the difference between 25 million people (Senate Finance bill) and 17 million (House bills) still uninsured ten years from now ... the difference between covering people at the level of the Senate Finance bill and covering something close to all legal residents is maybe $150 billion over ten years. That's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things."

Hospital lobby perturbed by the relatively weak coverage. NYT: "hospital lobbyists said Wednesday that the coverage was not good enough to meet the terms of an agreement they had reached with Mr. Baucus and the White House. The industry said it had agreed to accept $155 billion in reduced Medicare payments over 10 years, provided that 97 percent of all legal residents were insured. 'They have not yet met the standard of our deal,' said Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, a trade group."

HCAN's Jason Rosenbaum reminds that the deficit reduction has nothing to do choosing co-ops over public option: "'CBO estimates that of the $6 billion in federal funds that would be made available, about $3 billion would be spent over the 2010–2019 period.' Co-ops are so ineffective you can't even give away the start-up money."

Yet another poll with big support for public option. Bloomberg: "The [Quinnipiac] poll found voters support a government-run plan to compete with private insurers 61 percent to 34 percent."

Time's Karen Tumulty raises concerns that weak individual mandate could increase premiums: "Some health experts say the latest version of the committee's bill could actually put upward pressure on the cost of private insurance. That is because the committee weakened a provision that would require Americans who do not have coverage through their employer, or through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, to go out and purchase it ... that the new version of the bill would impose lower fines than the original draft on those who are not exempt from the mandate, but who choose not to buy insurance anyway."

HuffPost's Sam Stein reports Senate Dems are exploring public option "opt-out" compromise: "Senate Democrats have begun discussions on a compromise approach to health care reform that would establish a robust, national public option for insurance coverage but give individual states the right to opt out of the program ... It was pulled out of an alternative idea, put forth by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and, prior to him, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, to give states the power to determine whether they want to implement a public insurance option. But instead of starting with no national public option and giving state governments the right to develop their own, the newest compromise approaches the issue from the opposite direction: beginning with a national public option and giving state governments the right not to have one ... 'It is clearly much better than triggers and [Carper's] opt-ins,' said Richard Kirsch, executive director of the group Health Care For American Now." FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher criticizes: "F*** those poor people who live in Republican states easily bought off by corrupt legislatures. They don't deserve heatlh care anyway."

House Still Grappling To Forge Consensus Bill

The Hill covers differing whip counts: "Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told a closed-door caucus meeting that the group’s 'whip count' showed it had 208 of the 218 votes needed to pass what liberals call a 'robust' public option. That version would link rates to Medicare plus 5 percent ... [Rep. James] Clyburn told Woolsey that his ongoing, informal tally doesn’t show the liberals’ version of the public option having that kind of support ... Some House members, particularly centrists, questioned Woolsey’s 208 figure, noting that last Thursday the Progressive Caucus presented Pelosi with only about 150 names."

Rep. Anthony Weiner tells CQ: "I don’t think we have 218 votes for any of these plans yet."

Progressive Caucus chair complains to The Plum Line that Pelosi is pushing weaker version of public option: “Unfortunately, the discussion was about negotiated rates ... We continue to be very much opposed to that.”

LA Times reviews intra-party divisions over raising revenue for reforms.

Rep. Frank Financial Reform Plan Too Weak?

WSJ reports two regulators criticized Rep. Barney Frank's draft derivatives plan as lax on Wall Street: "Nodding to [Wall Street] concerns, Mr. Frank's draft legislation eliminates mandates for trading on exchanges or equivalents. It also narrows the kinds of trades that would have to pass through a central clearinghouse. Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, told a meeting of the committee that Mr. Frank has made the bill too lax on financial firms. He cited a provision allowing major companies that trade swaps to escape new regulations if they are making the trades to manage business risk. Any exception 'should be very narrowly defined,' Mr. Gensler said in prepared remarks. Henry Hu, director of a new risk-management division at the Securities and Exchange Commission, added: 'This wording could cause a large number of important entities to fall outside this needed new regulation.' ... Mr. Frank defended his proposal but added that it is still a 'work in progress' and that he expects it to evolve. He said the bill must be sensitive to the needs of those who need derivatives to hedge risk and don't pose major threats to the financial system. He said he hopes to have the House vote on the bill by November."

Don't-Call-It-A-Stimulus Stimulus Plans Considered

E.J Dionne reports on the wide range of ideas being considered to create jobs: "It is a sign of the gravity of unemployment that even liberals who typically see business tax cuts as a highly inefficient way to reduce unemployment are supporting a tax credit for new jobs -- an idea that was knocked out of the original stimulus proposal. ... The administration and the Democratic Congress are also likely to move quickly on traditional ways to pump money into the economy by helping Americans most hurt in the downturn. These include extending unemployment insurance, expanding food-stamp coverage and offering more help so the unemployed won't lose health insurance. All have a high economic return since the recipients, because of need, spend the money quickly. With so many states being forced to cut their budgets and raise taxes -- the exact opposite of a stimulus -- more direct assistance to states is also likely to be part of a new jobs package."

NYT reports expansion of home purchase tax credit considered: "Democratic Congressional leaders are working with the White House to extend an expiring $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, and aides said Wednesday that they were considering making it available to current homeowners who purchase a new residence."

Manufacturers To Get Protections In Climate Bill

Sen. Sherrod Brown tells McClatchy the WH plans to protect manufacturers in climate bill: "He said on Wednesday that the Obama administration is helping to craft a plan to protect energy-intensive industries that would face competition from countries with no climate rules. Six industries fit that profile -- glass, aluminum, cement, chemicals, paper and steel..."

150 executives push for climate bill in DC. AP: "The business executives from more than 30 states argued that climate legislation and a shift of energy priorities away from fossil fuels could lead to a new industrial revolution and create 1.7 million jobs related to clean energy technologies — from developing new batteries to building windmills and the next generation of solar panels."

Mother Jones reports the Chamber of Commerce circumvented its procedure to oppose climate bill: "The Chamber claims to speak for more than 3 million businesses spanning Wall Street to Main Street. But in its zeal to please a few powerful industries, it has taken a hard-line position on climate change that seems to be out of step with part of its membership ... In embracing this aggressively narrow climate policy, the Chamber appears to have gone around its usual policy-making process. According to the Chamber's internal rules, its policies and positions are developed by committees and then approved or rejected by its board of directors. But Donald J. Sterhan, chair of the Chamber’s energy and environment committee, says that its board of directors and its committees never formally endorsed the climate stance ... An unusually large portion of the more than 100 board members come from companies tied to the production or burning of fossil fuels."

Pell Grants Up For Boost

W. Post on college affordability plans and challenges: "President Obama aims to boost the aid further with $40 billion in funding over the next decade. But even that influx might not ensure that the grants will recover and sustain the purchasing power they once held. Experts agree on the reason: soaring college costs ... U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) ... said that a student aid bill the House passed last month would strengthen the Pell program with $40 billion in additional funding, indexing it for the first time to inflation, but that it would not erase questions about spiraling tuition and fees."

Dean Baker rewrites Post headline: "The Cost of Increasing Pell Grants Will be 0.1 Percent of Federal Revenue Over the Next Decade"

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