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  • Morning Bell: The Six Key Issues the House Must Cave On Before Obamacare Becomes Law

    This morning at around 8 AM, the Senate passed, again on a straight party-line vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) manager’s amendment to the Senate’s version of Obamacare. This keeps the Senate on pace to pass the bill at 9 PM on Christmas Eve despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly opposed the legislation. But even after the Senate gives President Barack Obama his $2.5 trillion Christmas present, the bill, assuming it is to be considered in regular order, still must go through a House and Senate conference.

    President Barack Obama attempted to downplay differences between the House and Senate bills telling American Urban Radio Networks yesterday: “The Senate and the House bills are 95 percent identical. There’s five percent differences, and one of those differences is the public option. This is an area that has just become symbolic of a lot of ideological fights. As a practical matter, this is not the most important aspect to this bill.” We’ll let President Obama fight with his base abut how important a strong public option is to health reform, but a government run plan is just one of six key differences between the House and Senate bills:

    Soak the Rich or Tax Everybody: The Senate bill relies heavily on a new excise tax on high cost health plans: a 40 percent tax on plan exceeding $8,500 for an individual and $23,000 for a family. The AFL-CIO and SEIU both call this a tax on working families. The Senate bill also includes a new premium tax on all insurers and the CBO confirms that the cost of this tax will be passed on to all Americans with private insurance. The House bill depends on a heavy new income tax targeted at top-earning taxpayers and small businesses. The 5.4 percent tax on individuals with incomes above $500,000, and on families with incomes above $1 million, is structured in a way that over time more and more Americans will be hit by this tax and small business owners would be particularly affected.

    Employer Mandate Penalties: The Senate bill imposes a $750 penalty per worker on employers of 50 or more who are not covered by the federally approved package of health benefits. The Senate mandate has other strange consequences. If an employer offers coverage, but an employee is eligible by virtue of income to qualify for taxpayer subsidies and entry into the state-based health insurance exchange, the employer is also penalized. In other words, employers are penalized for hiring people at the poverty level, even if they offer health insurance. The House bill imposes a direct requirement on employers to offer federally-qualified health care coverage to their employees or pay a payroll tax on a sliding scale up to 8 percent. Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses have come out against the bills.

    Individual Mandate Penalties: The Senate bill requires individuals to purchase a government approved plan or pay a $750 penalty, beginning in 2014. The tax penalty, indexed for inflation, would increase over time. The House bill requires individuals to pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of their income, depending on the size of their income, for not obtaining federally-approved health care coverage.

    Weak or Strong Public Plan: The Senate bill establishes a new set of “multi-state” private health plans sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the agency that administers the federal civil service — that would compete against private health plans in the state based exchanges that are mandated by the provision of the Senate bill. In contrast, the House bill includes an explicit public plan.

    Medicaid Expansion: The left may complain that there is no government-run option in either bill, but both the House and Senate bill accomplish over half their additional health insurance coverage through Medicaid expansion. The Senate bill would require states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all Americans up to 133 percent Federal Poverty Level. The House bill would require states to expand their Medicaid programs to 150 percent FPL, the same level suggested in earlier versions of the Senate HELP Committee bill. Both Democrat and Republican Governors are against this state budget-busting welfare expansion.

    Taxpayer Funded Abortion: The President promised that there would be no federal funding for abortion. In the House bill, by virtue of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, there is a genuine firewall between federal funding and abortion coverage. In the Senate bill, by virtue of the agreement between Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), there is no such firewall. For the “pro-life” forces on both sides of the aisle, the Nelson language appears to fall short of the House language.

    These are all major policy differences that go to the core of the Obama health care plan. For each option, choosing one version over the other will have huge consequences for the American people. But since Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have threatened to veto the bill if any significant changes are made by the House in conference, it is most likely the Senate will prevail on every issue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) might even just save herself and the leftist majority in the House the embarrassment and pass the Senate bill as is. After all, the Obama administration wants a bill, any bill, and doesn’t really care what is actually in it.

    Quick Hits:

    • Through the first three quarters of 2009, Washington lobbyists have spent $2.5 billion lobbying the federal government, a pace that will shatter the $3.3 billion record lobbyists spent last year.
    • Senators overseeing health bill debate have received millions in cash from the companies they regulate including $2.5 million for Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), $210,050 for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and $66,000 for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
    • The failure of the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen to produce a strong, binding agreement to cut carbon-dioxide emissions sowed gloom in European carbon markets Monday, with prices for carbon-emissions permits falling more than 8%.
    • The Chinese government has set Wednesday as the trial date for Liu Xiaobo, a dissident who has been in detention for more than a year for his role in writing Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform, human rights and an end to one-party rule.
    • Saying the West can give Iran “as many deadlines as they want, we don’t care” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration for Tehran to accept a U.N.-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    32 Responses to Morning Bell: The Six Key Issues the House Must Cave On Before Obamacare Becomes Law

    1. Terry says:

      I keep hearing that the passing of the obamacare bill is Unconstitutional and I have found nothing in the Constitution where it says that Congress can tell me I have to buy Health insurance or go to jail. If it is Unconstitutional, then when is someone going to call them on it or better yet, IMPEACH Them.

    2. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      We will remember. If Obamacare becomes law, "We, the People," as the Preamble to the Constitution goes, will remember. We will Remember in November. Also, if we're smart, in December. Next Christmas, let's begin a "Naughty or

      Nice" campaign. If our Senators and Congressmen have been

      naughty, by a Christmas stocking at Dollar Tree, or Dollar General, and then buy lumps of coal, put them in the stockings, and mail them to your Senators and Congressmen.

      I just saw in The New Hampshire Union Leader, that my senator, Jeanne Shaheen, may have been the beneficiary of a sweetheart deal. If so, I urge all people in New Hampshire, and around the country, to send her coal-filled stockings next Christmas. The same with Ben Nelson, if he's still in the

      Senate, next year. It's too late for this Christmas but we can

      plan on it for next Christmas. My Congressman, Paul Hodes, will be on the "Naughty list" as well. If your Senator or Congressman isn't naughty, if he's nice, (he didn't vote for

      Obamacare), then send him a letter, an email, or call him, to say thank you.

    3. BG Bob Clements USAF says:

      ELECTION 2010

      Don't forget to Remember

      Chk6

      bob

    4. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      In retrospect none of us should be surprised about all the shady back room deals made between Dingy Harry (and Rham Emanuel) and the multitude of Democratic senators who basically took bribes of other people’s money, such as our tax dollars, current and future, to get what they want for their vote. While those of us actual loyal Americans who have a working moral compass understand we can vote them out in 2010 (or whenever) America may not be able to take the financial hit until then. The peaceful plan is to replace these oxygen thieves (regardless of party or lack thereof) with ethical people who are willing and able to represent us accurately without fail. The second part of the plan is to use the repeal function to rid this great nation of the infestation of absolutely un-American policies/laws/taxes while restoring the individual liberties that are at the foundation of what makes this nation great.

      The not so peaceful option is what our founding fathers eventually resorted to when the peaceful plan yielded no results. Here we have elected representatives; it is just they have a strong propensity to grossly misrepresent us at every opportunity and they are in this country, not across the ocean in a foreign land. Those who are busy misrepresenting us hope they can fool us again by stating that we are not a banana republic implying that more aggressive action against them is un-American. They have demonstrated a gross lack of judgment before with their actions and now they are doing that with their thoughts.

      I noticed the bubbling of discontent back in January of 2009 with a great number of various countrymen. However, eleven months later I noticed a strong uptick in dissatisfaction with those purporting to be of the Democratic persuasion. Poll numbers from various sources indicate a significant change has occurred relative to the thoughts of the populace as it relates not only to Obama’s performance but of other elected Democrats as well!

      What is odd is the tactics the Democrats are using against those who bring up the inequalities of this bill and express their idea to solve it. They have demonstrated they are the party of thugs, racists and historical revisionists. And they have groups of those who think Dingy Harry’s (and Obama’s) policies are not radical enough and those who think they are too radical. The good news, if there is any, is that good may triumph over evil simply because they are too busy destroying their own. That doesn’t mean we (and our elected representatives) who actually are representing us accurately can merely stop fighting the good fight. It means we keep the pursuit of American excellence strong as we maintain the pressure to stop tyranny so that liberty prevails.

    5. Bettye Jo Georgia says:

      I did a little research on Reid's vote buying. I could not find much information, but what I found is revealing. Fourteen different states received payola; some states got more than one concession. In Vermont two different senators sold out. There probably are more than fourteen states, but that is all I have found so far.

      The democrats are trying very hard to keep this information from the public. Only four of the bought votes had a dollar amount attached and those amounts total $660,000,000. There are 14 more deals for which I could not find a dollar amount. No telling what the total will eventually be.

      The states I identified where the senators prostituted themselves are: Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Four states got their Medicaid funding from the federal government forever. They are Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont, and Nevada (Harry Reid protected his state early on). Vermont may have a 6-year limit on this benefit. Three states (Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania) got Medicare Advantage protected for their citizens.

      Isn’t it unconstitutional to tax one group of people (one state) different from another?

      Can Reid legally spend our tax payer money to buy votes? This should not be allowed. All states should be treated alike. I don't see why all the other Democrats don't hold their votes for ransom too. This is outrageous! If this is legal then Reid or whoever is in charge can just keep dangling carrots until he gets the votes he needs to pass anything! This sounds like the Governor of Illinois selling Obama’s Senate seat. I guess this is the way things are done in Illinois where Obama was trained, but it is not the American way and we must put a stop to it.

      If we can get control of the Senate, we should request a law or something to prevent "vote buying" in the Senate. One person should not be in a position to spend millions of tax payer dollars to get the votes he needs to pass anything. This is not democracy.

      I am afraid that Soros has plans for future elections:

      Read: http://spectator.org/archives/2009/12/04/soros-ey

      Someone else posted the following on another web site. I quote:

      "ALERT!!!

      More horrors from the Marxist-run Senate, folks!

      We Are No Longer a Nation of Laws. Senate Sets Up Requirement for Super-Majority to Ever Repeal Obamacare:

      http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/12/21/we-are-n

      It just gets "worser and worser."

    6. Publius Huldah, Cook says:

      Here are several papers giving you the arguments you need to show – to prove – that the health care bill is unconstitutional. Amaze your Friends! Confuse and confound our Enemies! http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/

    7. Michael Spurlock Mis says:

      Wishful thinking.

      All the House stuff the Democrats want, AND all the Senate provisions they want, will become law.

      They don’t obey rules or laws and they despise the Constitution.

      They’ve already betrayed their oaths and their country multiple times.

      Why would any reasonable person expect them not to do it again?

    8. Brent Heishman Newco says:

      So what can I do on a grass roots level to change the way bills become law. It seems that congress is okay with bribing one another to pass a bill. What can we do to end earmarks and force bills to contain only germain spending?

    9. Brenda Easton says:

      You have to buy car insurance and that isn't against the constitution! Get a grip. Why wouldn't anyone want health insurance, so you can live off of those of us who have it, paying for those of you who don't have it?

    10. Jon, California says:

      I am very disgusted at the whole evolution of Obamacare – the political infighting, the polarization, and most importantly the taking of a key issue in America today and turning it into a bloated political football with little substance and a high cost. We are told that the system is going to be reformed even though anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that there is no reform to be had.

      I really had wanted to see some real health reform – an issue that has been decades (perhaps half a century) past due. Our current system does not work that well, and it is time to fix it. What I see in Obamacare is none of that.

      There is already too much a tax burden on the upper incomes in this country – something President Obama has been eager to make worse since he took office almost a year ago. The rhetoric alone from the President has probably made our recession drag longer than it need be. Personally, I find myself thinking defensively regarding my personal income – and I expect many others as well. This is really wrong considering we are precisely the people who need to be thinking about proactive business and investment strategies which in turn would help create jobs and stimulate our economy. I have no trouble paying my fair share of taxes. But I do take issue at the constant threat to everything I have worked for all these years.

      So the country got up and voted for some change in Washington a year ago – and got little if none in return. We are about to be burdened with a side of pork huge enough to suffocate anyone – called "health care reform." Much of this bill won't even take effect until 2014 – so we will have to wait four long years to start cleaning up the mess from this current Congress. Those of us who wanted reform find ourselves being told that we have been given reform – yet we have been given nothing but more debt and the same old side of pork – a massive helping of it. I'm getting sick thinking about it!

    11. Jen says:

      Brenda…you only have to buy car insurance if you own a car and want to drive it…it's your choice to own a car or not.

      This whole healthcare bill is about political power and control…ther is nothing in here that will reduce any of our costs for health care…nothing.

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    14. Publius Huldah, Cook says:

      Brenda Easton: If you read the paper at the link, you will see the fatal flaw in the "auto insurance – health insurance" analogy. Also, you will learn what "federalism" means.

      http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/ref

    15. Bobbie Jay says:

      KILL THE BILL on the basis of DECEPTION, COERCION, MISREPRESENTATION, BRIBERY, DISCRIMINATION, UNFAIR TAXATION, MANIPULATION, on the basis of CORRUPTION, INCOMPETENCE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE UNDESERVING OF THIS LEADERSHIP! KILL THE BILL!

      OBAMA WANTS THIS BILL NOW, BECAUSE HE WANTS THE MONEY NOW!

    16. Diane, TN says:

      Why is it so important to Obama to pass such a detrimental health care plan??

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    19. Keith Diederich, NC says:

      @Brenda Easton: Law does NOT require us to buy auto insurance, or even a car. STATES only require us to own auto insurance if we want to drive on STATE-OWNED roads. People who don't drive, don't have to buy auto insurance. Should I have to buy health insurance in order to BREATHE? Your analogy suggests that our lives and health belong to the US government.

    20. Jon, California says:

      I think an important question to ask now is "what is so important to rush?" Obama wants this bill by the end of the year, yet it wouldn't be generally implemented until Jan 1, 2014. Doesn't that raise a few red flags right away?

      All political differences aside, Obama is NOT a stupid man. Yet he seems overjoyed to accept a terribly flawed and grotesque bill. Again I ask, "Why?"

      All of this is awfully strange. Not everyone in Congress is stupid. Why do they insist with rushing through junk that does not achieve their goals? It makes no sense.

    21. Bobbie Jay says:

      I firmly believe this is a "RUSH FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE" BECAUSE HE AND MANY OTHERS, CREATED THIS CRISIS! WHILE COLLECTING THEIR TAX PAYERS STOLEN MONEY, PAY CHECKS! IT'S A COVER! OBAMA WANTS THE MONEY, NOW! NOT FOR GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTH CARE OR FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! BUT PAY-OFFS, IN THIS COUNTRY AND OUT! MANIPULATING FUTURE CRISIS, INTO NATIONAL/GLOBAL FINANCIAL MAYHEM!

    22. judy, Richland, WA says:

      Start investigating the republicans and independents who are running in each state to unseat a democrat and we will get a super majority in place in time to repeal all these crazy bills/laws. So far I will support these candidates: Jim Gibbons in Iowa; Allen Quist in Minnesota; Rick Torres in Connecticut.

    23. Michael Hendry, Flor says:

      If you think the health care bill is bad. Go to the truthabout the united nations. this video tells what the U.N and the concil of foreign affairs have in mind for us and the rest of the world. what they did to countries that wanted freedom and liberty. to coin a phrase one world government or NWO new world order.

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    25. Ron, WA says:

      What the Obama Admin. is doing doesn't make sense to rational human beings because we think that what he says is what he means, but HE DOESN'T!!! All of this is nothing but smoke and mirrors. We are being distracted by the hand waving of his right hand while we are diverted from seeing what he's doing with his left hand. All he is seeking to do is to bring total control over this nation into the hands of liberal democrats FOREVER!!! He has and will usurpt the Constitution at any time because to him and all liberals, it's just a piece of paper with writing on it. They want to make slaves of all of us, taking control of every aspect of our lives; no one will escape from their control. That's why they are spending us into obliviion. They want everyone to be dependent on a Central, all controlling government, and when they do, they will never give up the reigns of power, and they are willing to do ANYTHING to achieve that goal.

      We conservatives must make sure that the people we vote into office will be willing to sign a written agreement that they will vote to overturn all of Obamacare, and the Stimulus Bill and the money that was given out is paid back IN FULL, and that these paybacks will be used to pay down the debt. Otherwise our struggles will be in vain.

      We must also outlaw all lobbying… PERIOD!!, and only allow INDIVIDUAL contributions to any campaign so that the rich and powerful will not have unfair advantage over the regular citizens. Also, everyone who has deliberately broken constitutional law should be brought to justice, and fined a Million Dollars for every crime he/she has committed, and will never be able to hold any government office ever again whether it be Federal, State, County, City or Local Government.

    26. Ron, WA says:

      I also believe that there should be a cap to ALL contributions, not just to individual campaigns, and that no private moneys will be allowed to be used for any campaigning or advertising. All taxpayers must be required to pay up to $5 of their taxes paid to a party of their choosing or to an individual candidate. This will allow people who are not filthy rich to be able to run for office in our country. ALL News Media should be required to give free and equal time to all candidates within their respective states.

      I also believe that there should be term limits on ALL government officials just as there is for the presidency: 3 terms of 2 years for the House, and 2 terms of 4 years for the Senate. Government Office was never intended to be a career position.

      Voting by mail should be outlawed because of the corruption that can occur using this method of voting. Voting machines should be made so that it will record the fingerprint of each voter before they cast their vote, and the voting machine should be a stand alone machine, not connected to any outside source thus preventing tampering from outside sources. The machines should be watched by members of all political parties who are familiar with these machines as the vote totals are tallied. The machines should be inspected by members of both parties to insure that no illegal tampering has taken place as it is placed into position at the designated precincts. Volunteer Voting Police from all parties should be present during voting hours to prevent coercion or violence from people outside of the voting establishments. All these things should be implimented to stop or at least decrease voter fraud. All individuals who commit voter fraud should have their voting privileges revoked for 6 years. Repeat offenders should have voting privileges revoked permanently. If a political party is found to have committed voter fraud, that pary should be fined no less than 10 Million dollars. Voter Fraud should be punishable by inprisonment and a hefty fine because it can change the outcome of a political race which can also change laws and the amount of taxes we pay.

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