Reid Resurrects 'Public Option'

Most Democrats and the White House are beginning to wonder if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can cobble together any version of Obamacare that can actually pass the Senate.

In many closed-door meetings yesterday with his fellow congressional leaders and another with President Obama, negotiations on “Harrycare” continue without result.  The defeat of Reid’s attempt to slam the “doc fix” (a bill to revamp doctors’ reimbursements in Medicare) earlier this week hurt Reid’s credibility even among his supporters.

The latest trial balloon out of Reid’s health care meetings late yesterday would have included a state-by-state opt-out mechanism from the government-run health care insurance company which liberals are adamant on creating. (Reid, in serious trouble in his own 2010 re-election campaign in Nevada, had already gotten the opt-out for his own state).

Opting out of a bill that allows states to chuck budget-busting, unfunded mandates on proposed Medicaid expansion spending would be a no-brainer for states.  Which means the left will go apoplectic over it, settling for nothing less than an actual government takeover of health care.  It all comes down to which factions can be bought off to combine for the winning numbers.  It does not appear this latest “compromise” attempt will get traction.

Reid and other Senate Democrat leaders were hastily called to the White House late yesterday for a face-to-face with Obama.  Reid was expected to ask the president for help in arm-twisting Democrats for votes.

New Report Says House Obamacare Will Increase Health Care Cost by $750 Billion

Over on the House side, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, released a stunning new, independent report by career government economists (pdf) at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The report concludes that H.R. 3200, the Democrats’ House health care bill, would increase health care spending by a staggering $750 billion.  

Obama has often stated that health care reform would “slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”  

To complicate matters further, Obama pledged to sign a bill only if it reduced health care spending.  The House bill does not meet that criterion.

“From day one the President and his people said health care reform must reduce the amount we spend on health care, but now the analysts in his own administration are saying the House bill will do just the opposite — it has us spending $750 billion more on health care,” Rep. Camp told HUMAN EVENTS of the report.  “We simply cannot afford all the taxing and spending in this bill.  Health care is too important to risk on the massive government takeover scheme.”

The expert independent analysis was done by the Office of the Actuary (OACT) at CMS, a federal agency within the leviathan Department of Health and Human Services.

This report differs from the Congressional Budget Office report in that it examines the bill’s full impact on the nation’s economy. CBO merely estimates the impact on federal government budget and spending.

When analyzing the Democrats’ cuts to Medicare, OACT report predicts that, “Over time, a sustained reduction in payment updates, based on productivity expectations that are difficult to attain, would cause Medicare payment rates to grow more slowly than, and in a way that was unrelated to, the provider’s costs of furnishing services to beneficiaries.  Thus, providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).”  

 “It is amazing what the Democrats are trying to hide from seniors and the American people,” Camp said.  “This report should shock anyone concerned about the nation’s finances, and seniors concerned about being able to find a doctor to treat them.”

There are many more dire predictions from the OACT report which can be found on the House Ways and Means website.

Pay Czar, Not Obama, Made Cuts to Executive Pay

Fox News is reporting that White House Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg did not seek the president’s approval before slashing executive pay at seven institutions accepting TARP bailout funding.  

Obama himself said yesterday that Feinberg had the “independent authority” to make those decisions — which begs questions of accountability and Congressional oversight.  

This morning the Washington Post reports that the administration’s pay cutting exercise is going beyond the companies that received TARP bailout funds into other industries that are “merely government-regulated.”  That report — if true — should give Republicans a massive new issue because the term “government-regulated” is applicable to a wide-range of industries. What’s next? The aerospace industry?  The automobile manufacturers? There’s no end in sight.

Feinberg is one of dozens of czars appointed to positions of unprecedented power and authority without Senate confirmation.  His is not an advisory position to the president nor is he a member of the cabinet.  Feinberg is in a high-level position of enormous power, making as well as implementing policy that affects the American people.  Feinberg has been handed “independent authority” — somehow under the auspices of the Treasury Department — to set executive pay of private citizens.

How far the Obama administration will go in converting America’s free-market economy into a European regulated economy depends on how strongly Republicans react. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this.