James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

5 scenarios for healthcare reform

Sep 2, 2009 13:28 UTC

Former Bush White House economist Keith Hennessey lays some odds on how healthcare reform will proceed from here:

I see five possible paths for the President and Democratic Congressional leaders.  I will list them in the order in which I think they will be considered, and I will assign my subjective probabilities to each.

  1. Cut a bipartisan deal on a comprehensive bill with 3 Senate Republicans, leading to a law this year;  (10% chance)
  2. Pass a partisan bill through the regular Senate process with 59 Senate Democrats + one Republican, leading to a law this year;  (10% chance)
  3. Pass a partisan bill through the reconciliation process with 50 of 59 Senate Democrats, leading to a law this year;  (25% chance)
  4. Fall back to a much more limited bill that becomes law this year;  (50% chance)
  5. No bill becomes law this year. (5% chance)

And here is his bottom line:

You can’t make the insurance “reforms” work by themselves.  In addition, insurance reforms without the individual mandate would cause insurers to awaken from their confused slumber and enter the debate with vigor (in opposition). … For this reason, I think it’s easier to “build up” to a smaller bill.  There will clearly be a bipartisan consensus to increase Medicare spending on doctors (the so-called “doc fix”).  I will guess that this path leads to $100B — $200B of spending over 10 years:  more Medicare money for doctors, combined with expansions of Medicaid for the poor.  To offset the deficit effect, they would cut Medicare Advantage and nick at other Medicare providers, and maybe do some of the Kerry tax increase proposal.  This would be an “incremental” package that advocates would argue is a small step in the right direction.  I would oppose such a package, but it might be able to get 60 votes, and could almost certainly get the 50 votes needed through reconciliation, and without any significant procedural hurdles.  … This is what Democrats do when all else has failed, to make sure the President has something to sign.  It’s a failure path that they would unconvincingly argue is a first step toward a larger reform.

COMMENT

~ WHEN THE LAUGH OF $ATAN WA$ HEARD IN THE PEOPLE$ HALLS OF U$ CONGRE$$ ~

THIS OLD WORLD ORDER OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF OUR POORER AMERICANS NEEDS ENLIGHTENED POLITICAL MINDS AND HEARTS TO VIEW GOD DIFFERENTLY THEN $$$…. NO MATTER WHAT THEIR POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION ???

WHEN WILL OUR WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS ABATE THEIR ASSAULT ON POORER AMERICANS WITH THEIR MONETARY CONTROL OF OUR IVORY TOWER U.S. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER ???

THERE ARE NOT MANY MORE DISTRACTIONS LEFT WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR OUR WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS TO HIDE BEHIND IN NOT TAKING PROPER CARE OF ALL OUR AMERICANS IN A HUMANE FASHION !!!

RALPH NADER ATTEMPTED TO EDUCATE AMERICAN VOTERS ABOUT U.S. CORPORATE POWER IN AMERICA AND HOW THEY CONTROL OUR CONGRESSIONAL PEOPLE THROUGH THEIR POCKET BOOK (POLITICAL DONATIONS). * WITHOUT THE DOUGH $$$ THESE U.S. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD DO NOT GET RE~ELECTED TO CONGRESS.*TO STAY IN POLITICAL OFFICE IN AMERICA,ONE HAS TO BARTER YOUR VOTES IN CONGRESS AND REPRESENT POWER INTERESTS IN RETURN FOR THE BUCK$.

POORER AMERICANS HAVE NEVER HAD THE $$$ LOBBY TO INFLUENCE THIS CORRUPT POLITICAL CONCEPT (of horse trading political votes for political contributions) TO ACHIEVE PROPER HEALTH ~CARE OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR ALL OUR MIDDLE ~ CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS.

AMERICAN IVORY TOWER U.S.CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD HAVE PASSED FEDERAL LEGISLATION IN WASHINGTON DC TO SPEND 50 BILLION AMERICAN TAX $$$ ON THE INTERNATIONAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WHILE THEIR OWN AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE BEING TOLD BY THIS SAME U.S.CONGRESS THAT NATIONAL HEALTH CARE AND PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR CITIZENS IS UNAFFORDABLE.

*** WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS (WHO ARE ONLY 1% OF OUR USA POPULATION) SADLY ALSO CONTROL HOW OUR U.S.CONGRESS SPENDS THEIR BUDGET TRILLION$ AND HAVE OBVIOUSLY FOUND MORE WORTHY INTERNATIONAL CITIZENS THEN OUR OWN DESPERATE AND NEEDY POOR TO ASSIST !!!

~Poorer Americans Nationwide only get 400 million $$$ per year for legal representation allocated them by CONGRESS~

Middle Class and Working Poor Americans are unable to afford proper legal representation in their Civil, Criminal and Family Courts of law all across America causing tremendous hardships nationwide,but these great minds and callous hearts in our American Congress have found others Worldwide more needy then their own citizens who are being falsely incarcerated,wrongfuly executed,losing their homes or apartments,losing child custody or visitation with their children etc�

Not being afforded proper legal representation by our U.S. Congress has created a total breakdown of the American judicial system for our poorer Americans because the our U.S. Courts punish all of us little people if we are not assisted with proprer legal counsel.*It is a known fact that our average Middle Class and Working Poor Americans without proper legal representation in all of our American Courts of law lose their legal cases to the better financed who are able to afford lawyers.

Lawyers For Poor Americans is now actively in the hunt for International Countries and Leaders Worldwide to help raise 5 Billion Dollar$ for our slighted poorer Americans who have had their own American Congress turn their backs on their desperate needs in not affording them proper legal representation.

Troy Davis and Mumia Abu ~ Jamal are 2 perfect examples of American citizens who never had proper legal representation or defense investigations afforded them by our U.S. Congressional Leaders Of The Free World in their initial criminal trials in (Georgia and Pennsylvania) who might very well have to pay the ultimate price of possibly being completely innocent and falsely executed in the near future.

These two poorer Americans are among tens of thousands of legal cases nationwide that never were afforded proper legal representation or proper defense investigations at their initial trials……**We the public really have no idea if these men are innocent or guilty until they both are given fair legal representation at their new future trials.

Improper murder trials take place in Third World Countries all the time. *** Why should average Middle~Class and Working Poor Americans in the Wealthiest Country Of The World be treated as if they are living a Third World Life Style ??

This is the first of many www International pleas by Lawyers For Poor Americans for other leaders and countries to help raise the needed monie$ to correct these blatant injustices that have been inflicted on poorer Americans for the last few decades.

Lawyers For Poor Americans has many other written articles that can be viewed with any www search engine by our name or our telephone number.

Lawyers For Poor Americans is a www lobby group of volunteers that sing out about the decades old neglect,abuse and injustices being inflicted on our poorer Americans that have become Crimes Against Humanity issues for the International World Court to investigate.

lawyersforpooreramericans@yahoo.com
(424-247-2013)

Posted by LAWYERS FOR POOR AMERICANS | Report as abusive

More on the union-Dem plan for new investment taxes

Sep 1, 2009 17:57 UTC

I got some really great comments on that post

1) Don’t these idiots realize that a transaction tax makes a market even more volatile? Look at China for example, they have a 1/10 % transaction tax, which severely reduces liquidity. Look how their market girates UP 5% one day, DOWN 8% the next! If you want to generate some fees from trading profits, TAX the profit on on those who earn them. Like Goldman Sachs & Warren Buffet. Don’t let them weasel their way out!

2) Placing a tax on trades will dry up much liquidity, and drive most traders out of America’s mkts.

3) This tax AMOUNTS TO 5 TIMES all of my current trading cost combined!

Example:

5000 shares $50 per share costs $50 to buy and sell. At a low cost direct access broker. (Including commission, exchange fees, SEC fees, etc)

This tax would be an additional $250 for that trade. To add insult to injury you have to pay it even if you lose money on the trade. On top of that you have to pay taxes on any profit via capital gains tax!

There is no right time to have a tax like this. BUT ATER A MARKET CRASH THERE IS NO WORSE TIME TO CONSIDER SUCH A TAX!

4) Using the logic of this article, then the US should also levy an extra tax on all UAW members since tax money bailed out the union auto companies. Stop all bailouts and stop all goverment redistribution of wealth programs so that ALL people can have lower taxes.

COMMENT

America is going the way of a 3rd world communist country. This is what and who you have voted for.

People for this tax are too stupid to realize the broader effects this will have on our capital markets.

Posted by dan czab | Report as abusive

Kennedy’s death and the future of healthcare reform

Aug 26, 2009 14:16 UTC

My friend Washington analyst Pete Davis give his always-insightful two cents:

1) Senator Kennedy’s death is quite a blow to hopes for health care reform. No only could Kennedy rally the troops for the tough parliamentary battles ahead, his seat will sit vacant until late January.  Under Massachusetts law, a special election must be held within 145 to 160 days to fill the vacancy and there will be no interim appointment in the meantime.  That robs Senate Democrats of a vote until then, leaving them one short of the 60 they need to overcome a filibuster.

2) Reconciliation may be pursued, but it’s a tortuous path. President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders have talked about using reconciliation to pursue a  Democrats only health reform.  That would allow Senate passage by a majority vote, but it comes with a lot of downside risk.  First, it guarantees no Republican would support it, and there are some Democrats who oppose using reconciliation too.  So that could be a close vote as well.  Second, making health reform work under reconciliation is not easy.  The Senate Parliamentarian would work day and night to decide what provisions are “extraneous,” meaning they don’t affect the budget and must be jettisoned.

3) I’ve been surprised in recent discussions with Senate Democratic staff at how much they think they can get past the Parliamentarian, like a Medicare Advisory Council, but a lot of insurance reforms etc. would have to pass in a separate bill.  If you end up with one bill and not the other, you’ve got a mess.  Finally, using reconciliation in such a partisan manner would impair its use in the future to reduce the deficit.  That has always been its intended purpose, and we will surely need it.

COMMENT

Teddy Kennedy was a noxious drunk, a sexual deviant and an unrepentant murderer posing as a U.S. Senator. The world became a better place the moment he assumed room temperature.

For the media to attempt to gloss over his despicable character and promote Kennedy as a hero is akin to posthumously promoting Michael Jackson as a champion for the defense of little boys’ virginity.

The ONLY thing worse than trying to lionize Teddy Kennedy is the puerile and vulgar attempt to shame the Republican legislators into going along with the railroading of socialized medicine down the throats of Thinking Americans all in the name of Honoring this Fable.

http://www.wheresthehope.wordpress.com

Posted by Bruce W. | Report as abusive

Are Obama’s healthcare troubles actually a good thing?

Aug 24, 2009 15:34 UTC

Mickey Kaus gives his theory:

It’s easy to forget that, even if Obama’s health care effort is bogging down, the effort itself still serves his presidency as a crucial time-waster, tying up Congress and giving him a reason to postpone (or the public a reason to ignore) those other divisive, presidency-killers. Obama needs some excuse for putting off unpopular Democratic demands; health care’s a good one. If he keeps failing to pass health care until spring, that might not be such a bad outcome. In fact, even quick passage was maybe never in his interest. There are things more unpopular than struggling. … Cap and trade, immigration legalization, “card check”—these are not what you’d call confidence building appetizers leading up to the main course of Obama’s presidency.

Me: None of it works when Americans have less and less confidence in Obama. And that number will continue to work against him as long as unemployment stays high.

COMMENT

Democrapic policies – from illegal amnesty, to card check, to “the fairness doctrine”, to health care, to affirmative action quotas, to lawyers for terrorists, to tax hikes – are all disasters for the US and unpopular.
It just goes to show that the health and happiness of America is not their primary concern – buying votes from special interest groups is.

Posted by allisonw | Report as abusive

Why the unemployment rate is headed higher

Aug 7, 2009 18:55 UTC

There were no high-fives at the White House today because of this probable economic reality, as explained by the guys at RDQ Economics (the great John Ryding and Conrad DeQuandros):

The case that the recession ended in June continues to grow with this report.  The rate of job loss has downshifted and the lengthening of the workweek in July resulted in flat hours worked in the private sector and an increase in manufacturing hours worked, which in turn points to a gain in industrial production in July.  However, the decline in the unemployment rate was not a product of job creation, but a result of falling labor force participation.  The labor force is unchanged over the last year and, as the economy improves, people are likely to seek jobs, resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate.  We do not think that the unemployment rate has peaked—although the case that it can peak at around 10% (rather than 11% or higher) is now much stronger.

COMMENT

What? I doubt if anyone actually believes this stuff. If they do, they need to visit their local neighborhood psychiatrist.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Poll: Obamanomics has too much spending, too much government

Jul 24, 2009 13:19 UTC

Notice particularly the the stats for independents …

072409gallup

Could CIT be a big blow for Dems in 2010?

Jul 14, 2009 13:25 UTC

Still wondering about a CIT Group bailout? Maybe the company is not systemically important, but it sure might be politically important for Democrats. This from analyst Jaret Seiberg of Concept Capital (via WSJ):

It seems like official Washington is just coming to grips with what would happen if the largest small-business lender went belly up,” said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst at Concept Capital’s Washington Research Group. “It would destroy Democratic hopes of getting unemployment under control before the mid-term election.

The bull case for the economy and Democrats

Jul 13, 2009 16:33 UTC
Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein of First Trust Advisers give the bull case for the economy. If these smart guys are right, 2010 might well be the third consecutive wipeout for Republicans. Some excerpts (bold is mine):
To be more precise, we are forecasting that real GDP grows at a 3.5% rate in the second half of 2009 and 4.5% next year. But, in all truth, we are much more confident about the overall 4%+ figure for the full 18-month period then about the exact growth rate for any particular quarter. …
First, we project business inventories are going to end 2010 about $25 billionlower than they are right now. (But with businesses no longer reducing stockpiles as forcefully as they have been in recent months, inventories will contribute 1.3 points to the real GDP growth rate.)
Second, we expect continued declines in the trade deficit, although not as quickly as in the last two years. The trade deficit was 5.4% of GDP in early 2007 and is now only about 2.2% of GDP. If the trade gap declines to 1.1% by the end of 2010, net exports can contribute 0.9 points to the real GDP growth rate.
Third, we expect home building to bottom later this year and rise in 2010, contributing 0.4 points to the real GDP growth rate. Housing starts are now only one-third of the long-term trend, justifiably so due to excess home inventories. But excess inventories have already dropped from about 4.5 million a few years ago to 2 million today. We think, realistically, it will take another three or four years to fully eliminate the excess.
Fourth, for government, we assume government spending contributes its long-term average of 0.4 points to real GDP growth, despite massive stimulus spending.
Fifth, despite our gut instinct that business investment in plant and equipment is going to turn around much faster, we assume an annualized rate of decline of 3.2%, which subtracts 0.3 points from the real GDP growth rate.
And last, we expect real consumer spending to rise at a relatively modest 2.1% annual pace, adding 1.5 points to the real GDP growth rate. To put this in perspective, we are forecasting that real consumption will be up at only a 0.6% annual rate from the end of 2007 through the end of 2010, the slowest three-year period for real consumer spending since World War II, including the early 1980s, when the jobless rate went up to almost 11%. It also means consumer spending drops to the lowest share of GDP since 2001.

Independents souring on Obamanomics (Virginia version)

Jul 9, 2009 11:28 UTC

Very interesting (via Politico):

A Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia found Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers effectively tied, with independents disapproving of the president’s job performance, 52 percent to 38 percent. “That is fairly consistent with all our polling around the country — Obama tends to be really well-liked personally, but he’s starting to lose a majority of the independents,” said Public Policy’s Dean Debnam. Democrats have “had long enough in some voters’ minds that they’re getting blame for nothing happening, and Republicans are scaring them around health care and tax increases.”

And Obama, of course, isn’t up for reelection anytime soon, and even nervous Democratic congressmen can keep their fingers crossed for economic recovery over the next year.

“It’s been more or less inevitable that we’re going to see some decline in numbers for Democrats,” said Mark Mellman, another Democratic pollster. “For most folks, there’s not an election until 2010, and most economists suggest that by the time we get to 2010, we’re going to see the beginnings of an uptick in the economy.”

My spin: Is Mellman taking into account a possible jobless recovery? Upticks in GDP ain’t going to cut, I don’t believe.

COMMENT

I remember when Charles Krauthammer said back in January that Obama would start to own the recession 6 months into his term. Alot of people laughed at that prediction and said it wouldn’t be until 1-2 years into his term that he would own it. But now, based on all the polling, he was right on.

Posted by Tony Franjie | Report as abusive

The econ chart that should worry David Axelrod and the Dems

Jul 9, 2009 11:11 UTC

Brad DeLong worries that the downturn in bond yields is hinting at an anemic economic recovery.

A recovery in which unemployment is higher two years later than when
the recovery began is not much of a recovery. And I don’t see what is
going to keep the probability of such an eventuality low.

The lower are ten-year Treasury interest rates, the more are people
trading in the bond market willing to bet their money that the future
holds that kind of non-recovery recovery. And so I worry.

Me:  Think a second stimulus would change that trajectory? Remember that the 2001 Bush tax cuts were considered to be almost perfectly timed stimulus.

axelrod

COMMENT

Recall the first Stimulus Plan. The “design” is the problem.

The first Stimulus is not based on Political-Economy. Rather its based on Political-Political.

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