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  • The House and Senate Cloakroom: February 8 – 12, 2010

    House Cloakroom: February 8 – 12


    Last week President Obama released his new budget which would spend an additional $1.7 trillion. Heritage budget analyst Brian Riedl breaks that down in his analysis of the budget here.  On top of that the House passed and sent to the President a $1.9 trillion dollar debt limit increase.

    As the Senate moves to take up a supposed “jobs” bill, the House with pivot back to health care.  The final language is still being worked out but they expect to take up a bill to remove antitrust exemptions for health insurers, which is a provision that does have some bi-partisan support. This could be sign that Congress could pivot to taking up smaller portions of the broader health care reform bill.

    Lastly, the House is also expected to take up an Intelligence Authorization bill.

    Major Floor Action:

    • Small health care bill to remove antitrust exemptions for health insurers (language still not available)

    Major Committee Action:

    • Many of the Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee will hold hearings this week to begin considering the 2011 Appropriations programs and activities.

    Senate Cloakroom: February 8 – 12


    Jobs.  Jobs.  Jobs.  The Senate stimulus strategy, outlined late last week, involves moving a number of smaller bills.  With public anxiety over last year’s $787 billion stimulus bill and the sheer complexity of the health care reform efforts, that makes political sense.  Moving multiple small bills will prove no more effective than last year’s failed effort if the policy is bad.  Unfortunately, many of the policies being discussed appear to be more of the same — spending and taxpayer-backed subsidies geared toward special interests.

    Major Floor Action:

    • On Monday, the Senate will vote to confirm Joseph Greenaway to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. They will also attempt to invoke cloture on the controversial nomination of Craig Becker to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board.
    • The legislative text of the “tax provision” stimulus bill has not been made public, but a misguided hiring tax credit is certainly on the table.

    Major Committee Action:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to The House and Senate Cloakroom: February 8 – 12, 2010

    1. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      To think that the Peloci led House of Repersentatives will "pivot" to any sort of "bi-partisan supported" health care bill is not only foolish, it is dangerous to the Americans that read and believe in the Heritage Foundation. Sometimes I really

      feel some of your writing staff is either extreamly naive or somewhat left in their

      thinking about Obama and his deliberate attempt to "transform" this country into

      his socialist dream.

    2. Tenn Slim Tennessee says:



      My Western Tn House Rep recently introduced a Fiscal Rules Resolution. He is retiring, and seems to be taking his last months as a means to finally shed the Pelosi Leftist Liberal Yoke of Servitude. Kudos to him.


      Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform:

      A plan to balance the budget, cut spending and secure America’s future

      1. Restore Pay-As-You-Go budget rules. The first step we can take to ensure that government does not spend beyond its means is to restore the proven, bipartisan pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules that effectively brought about budget surpluses in the 1990’s.

      2. Put the lid on federal spending. In addition to balancing the federal checkbook, Congress should set limits on discretionary spending. Just like American families who make tough decisions every day, Congress must learn to live within its means.

      3. Cut programs that don’t work. Congress must work with the Administration to identify and cut programs that don’t work. A commonsense budget enforcement tool, “expedited rescission” was passed by the House with bipartisan support in the 1990’s.

      4. Reduce the deficit. This tool forces Congress to live within its means by keeping our federal budget on setting a path towards balance. Congress would be required to cut spending to meet these targets, effectively reducing the deficit over time.

      5. Balance the budget. A critical component of the plan, a constitutional amendment would require that Congress balance the budget by 2020.

      6. Be honest about our long term fiscal obligations. Congress should be required to produce an honest and open assessment of the government’s long-term financial obligations as part of the budget resolution every year.

      7. Establish a bipartisan fiscal commission. A fiscal reform commission should be established to force Congress’ hand in making the tough decisions necessary to put the country back on a fiscally sustainable path.

      8. Improve transparency and accountability. Congress has a responsibility to hold government agencies accountable for wasteful spending. This measure would reduce the estimated $98 billion that is wasted annually when a federal agency pays too much or pays twice for a product or service.

      9. Establish performance-based budgeting. Performance-based budgeting is a results oriented budget tool that sets goals and performance targets for agencies, and measures their results, much like a small business. It is a commonsense policy that has been successfully implemented on the

      state level for many years.

      10. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Research shows that for every $1.00 we put into “program integrity accounts” that identify and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in government spending, we get $1.50 back. The authorization levels for these programs should be increased.

      11. Account for every dollar. Evaluating every dollar spent on our national defense is not only good fiscal practice; it is a matter of national security. Like all other major federal agencies, the Department of Defense should be subject to annual audits.

      12. Close tax loopholes. It is critical that the federal government continue to identify and report loopholes and inefficiencies within the current tax system. We can expand on these reports to reflect the total revenue lost and to identify inefficient tax subsidies.

      13. Take the politics out of the equation. In order to promote efficiency and eliminate undue political pressures, this provision would transition the Joint Committee on Taxation to an independent, nonpartisan legislative branch agency.

      14. Eliminate duplication and inefficiency. Government programs that are duplicative or inefficient can be a substantial drain on the federal budget. Establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend reorganizational changes to the federal government would help to streamline these programs and save taxpayer dollars.

      15. Review and terminate unnecessary federal programs. A “Sunset Commission” should be established to conduct regular reviews of federal programs and agencies, and make recommendations as to those which should be terminated.


    3. Drew Page, IL says:

      Following the outcome of the Massachusetts Senate race, Mr. Obama has been forced to refocus his attention to jobs creation. OK, fine, let's focus on jobs creation and let's start by putting together a real bipartisan effort to do so which hopefully will provide tax cuts for businesses.

      Let's not get drug back into an argument about whose fault it is that national heath care didn't pass. The Democrat leadership under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi showed absolutely no inclination to include Republican health care reform initiatives, such as tort reform, support of Health Care Savings Accounts and sale of insurance plans across state lines. The Senate forged their own version of Health Care Reform behind closed doors, not inclusive of industry professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies and certainly not on C-SPAN, all of which was repeatedly promised by Obama. It's pretty obvious that the Democrats couldn't get the 60 vote majority vote without the Senate closed door, back room bribery and vote buying.

      The House and Senate had the necessary votes from the Democrats alone to pass their version of health care reform. Yet still they had to blame Republicans and George Bush, who has been out of office for over a year. So now, after being forced to confront the will of a majority of the people, as exemplified by the vote in Massachusetts, they want to resurrect this mess, drag the Republicans in, go on C-SPAN and say "see, it's all the Republican's fault".

      My advice to Republicans would be to say "before we resurrect this dead health care legislation, which we were kept out of, let's focus on job creation like President Obama suggests". The majority of Americans are more concerned with getting back to work at a decent paying job and being able to keep that job than they are with health care reform. Don't let yourselves be drug back into the failed efforts of the liberal Democrats so that they have someone to blame, out than themselves.

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