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Big Budget Bill Blasts Bloviaters
Author: BobR    Date: 10/28/2015 14:44:01

When Speaker Boehner (R-OH) announced his resignation, he also mentioned that he wanted to "clean out the barn" before he left. It seemed like a reference to the budget and debt limit that were promising to be yet another black mark on our American legislative history. Many people were hoping he would bring a bill to the floor that would pass with Democrats help.

It seems like he is doing just that. It will likely be voted on today:
Congressional leaders and the White House came to tentative terms on a major budget deal in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, one that could stave off many of the fiscal land mines remaining through next year's election and beyond.

Its passage is far from certain, but it will most likely be the final act for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) before he leaves Congress at the end of the week and hands over the role to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The agreement, which would last for two years, comes just days before Congress needed to raise the nation's debt ceiling to prevent a potential default on the country's obligations, according to the Treasury Department. And it comes a little more than a month before another potential government-shutdown showdown.

The deal includes some "reform" to Medicare and Social Security (benefit cuts), but supposedly it's better than the alternative, especially with at least 15 more months of Republican rule in the Senate. It increases the debt limit through 2017 and spending through 2016, which takes those away as a bargaining chip from the "shut down the government" crowd. Along with giving a little on "entitlement" reform, it apparently also rolls back a small part of Obamacare that no one really liked:
The clause -- which policy nerds will find in Section 1511 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, right under the heading “Employer Responsibilities” -- calls for automatic enrollment by large employers. If the administration fully implemented the provision, all companies that have more than 200 full-time employees and offer job-based insurance would sign up their workers for coverage.

Workers would have the right to decline coverage or select alternative policies, but they’d have to take the initiative to do so -- in other words, they’d have opt-out coverage rather than opt-in. Automatic enrollment is a textbook example of the kind of “nudging” many economists believe is the most effective way of changing behavior to achieve public policy goals. In this case, the hope was to increase the number of people who have health insurance.

But the provision was unpopular almost from the get-go. Conservatives and employer groups complained that it would be difficult to implement and create unnecessary hassle. Some of the loudest cries came from the restaurant and retail industries -- which, perhaps, were less than enthusiastic about having to cover more of their workers.

Liberals had worries of their own. Although they supported the concept of automatic enrollment, they worried that some low-wage workers would unwittingly end up in plans that either cost too much or covered too little, at least relative to their incomes. (The high cost of employer insurance is a big reason why many low-wage workers turn down coverage now. It’s a problem most liberals are eager to address.)

So this bill gives the Republicans a little, keeps government funded until after next year's election (and rolls back some of the sequester), and flips a middle finger at the Freedom TeaParty Caucus. It's a compromise that everyone should be happy with - or at least able to live with.

Naturally - the unhinged wing of the Republican party is up in arms over this. Rand Paul is threatening to filibuster the bill:
“The right wants more money for the military and the left wants more money for welfare,” Paul said. “Guns and butter, that’s what we’re going to have, guns and butter, but as a consequence they’re destroying the country by adding more debt.”

“The debt ceiling is a canard put forward by those who want to spend money,” he said.

Tonight is another Republican debate, one in which Senator Paul will be participating. If he brings this up and says "guns and butter", you must take a drink.

36 comments (Latest Comment: 10/29/2015 01:15:23 by TriSec)
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