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Baucus Mark: CBO Preliminary Score

by Bruce Webb

CBO letter to Baucus

Estimated Budgetary Impact of the Amended Chairman’s Mark According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting the Chairman’s mark, as amended, would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $81 billion over the 2010–2019 period (see Table 1). The estimate includes a projected net cost of $518 billion over 10 years for the proposed expansions in insurance coverage. That net cost itself reflects a gross total of $829 billion in credits and subsidies provided through the exchanges, increased net outlays for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax credits for small employers; those costs are partly offset by $201 billion in revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans and $110 billion in net savings from other sources. The net cost of the coverage expansions would be more than offset by the combination of other spending changes that CBO estimates would save $404 billion over the 10 years and other provisions that JCT and CBO estimate would increase federal revenues by $196 billion over the same period.1 In subsequent years, the collective effect of those provisions would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits. Those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.

For some reason the Table came out smaller than usual, in any event click to enlarge.

I haven’t read through this and will make only two preliminary notes. One the bill leaves $81 billion in wiggle room to allow changes and still not break Obama’s (rather foolish in my mind) demand that it be deficit neutral. Two is that on the cost side it is way under Obama’s $900 billion leaving plenty of room for additions as long as corresponding funding is found for any thing proposed in excess of the $81 billion. Now if the Senate Finance Committee can just get this thing voted on and approved we could get this show on the road.

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CBO Preliminary Score of Baucus’s Chairman’s Mark

by Bruce Webb (h/t kharris)

A Summary of the Specifications for Health Insurance Coverage Provided by the Staff of the Senate Finance Committee. ‘Preliminary’ doesn’t begin to describe this, it is not even based on the full text of the Chairman’s mark as released this morning, which is probably just as well since that really didn’t have numbers attached anyway. So with no further ado:

Even with an individual mandate which comes with a substantial fine for non-compliance 6% of the legal non-elderly population end up still uninsured and a total of 25 million uninsured total, most of whom would be legal. And people above 300% of poverty getting no help at all.

Change we can count on? Sheesh.

Navigable PDF of the Chairman’s Mark courtesy of NYT here.

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Meet the Senate Finance Committee

by Bruce Webb

For the last two months much of the talk around Health Care Reform has been about the Gang of Six of the Senate Finance Commitee to the point that some people think the Gang and the Committee are one and the same. But this is not true at all, this week Chairman Baucus will release the Chairman’s Mark, shaped as it is by contributions from other members of the Gang, and will be faced with getting it through the full Finance Committee, itself largely shut out from the process to date. So for at least the moment the math changes, instead of crafting a bill that could potentially get 60 votes in the full Senate, Baucus is now face with pushing a bill out of the Committee with majority support, which in this case means 12 of 23 votes. The following names are in Committee seniority order with members of the Sub-Committee on Health Care marked with an ‘H’ and members of the Gang of Six marked with a ‘G’

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, WV (H-Sub-Committee Chair)

ORRIN G. HATCH, UT (H-Ranking Member)

First thing to note is that Health is a big Sub-Committee that includes all but four members of the full Committee which might explain why Baucus chose to take it to a smaller group. But inspection of the list shows a curious thing, the Gang of Six managed to include three out of the four members who are NOT on the Finance Health Sub-Committee and so would include those people not committed enough to Health Care to even request a seat.

Second thing is that while Sub-Committee Ranking Member Hatch was originally included in what was then a Gang of Seven, he dropped out early, and Sub-Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, the person you would expect a priori to have the biggest interest in this topic, was frozen out altogether. Nor did the Gang respect seniority, as noted it jumped over the number two Democrat on the full Committee roster in Rockefeller but also dipped deep on the Republican bench to pick up Enzi.

Third is the arithmetic. In order to get marked up legislation out of Committee Chairman Baucus needs twelve of twenty-three votes. We know from news reports that he has no support from nine Republicans, although he continues negotiation with the Gang of Six both Grassley and Enzi are on record that they will not vote for the final version. Which means that even if he retains the support of remaining Republican Gang member Snowe he needs the support of ten of the remaining Democrats to get to the magic number of twelve to achieve a majority. Without Snowe he can only afford to lose a single Democrat. Which at this point means the side-lined Chair of the Finance Subcommittee who the New Republic reports came out firmly against the Baucus Plan on Tuesday afternoon Breaking: Rockefeller Says “No Way” on Baucus Framework

I have sat besides Max Baucus for 22 years on the Finance Committee. … I’m probably one of his best friend among Democrats. But I cannot agree with him on this bill. … There is no way in present form I will vote for it. Therefore, I will not vote for it unless it changes during the amendment process by vast amounts.

Conventional wisdom was that the bill that would supply the framework for the bill on the Senate floor was going to be that of the Finance Committee and that moreover that bill would be fundamentally the work product of Baucus’s Gang of Six. But while Baucus asserts that the work of the Gang will continue, the fate of the bill over the next week will be determined by who can get twelve votes.

In a battle between full Committee Chair Baucus and Health Sub-Committee Chair Rockefeller who holds the strongest hand? We’ll see. But Rockefeller only needs to hold Kerry and Wyden to keep Baucus from an outright win, and one would think at a minimum he can hold Schumer and Stabenow, each of whom’s states look to be big winners from near universal health care.

My inbox tells me the Baucus Plan was just released so I expect to be back with some links and discussion. In the meanwhile: any early thoughts?

(Update one) SWEET. The NYT has the PDF of the Chairman’s mark in a navigable form on their site.

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Baucus ‘Plan’ Released

by Bruce Webb


I am deleting this post. It is not clear that the document posted on the Finance Committee website actually reflects Baucus’s new proposal. Why they chose to put an older document up this morning is a mystery. Until I get it figured out this will have to be a Emily Letilla moment: “Never mind!”

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Was it a Gang of Seven?

by Bruce Webb

Max Baucus of Montana (pop 935,670- 89.2% white)
Kent Conrad of North Dakota (pop 636,677- 90.1% white)
Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico (pop 1,928,384- 42.8% white)
Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming (pop 509,294- 88.8% white)
Charles E. Grassley of Iowa (pop 2,966,334- 91.5% white)
Olympia Snowe of Maine (pop 1,321,505 – 96% white).

Most people following the Health Care debate are aware that progress is now under the effective control of six senators who in aggregate are clearly center-right, and from small mostly rural states as seen here (table lifted from Nathan Newman at TPM Cafe). And most of us are equally aware that the party split of what is being called the Baucus Committee is 3 Dem to 3 Repub while the overall makeup of the Senate would suggest a ratio of 3 to 2. All of which has implications of their own, it is a funny kind of democracy that freezes out the representatives of the vast majority of Americans and the whole political spectrum from the center leftward (though I don’t know a lot about Bingaman, I hardly think he is a Russ Feingold type, please comment.)

So please lets talk about all of this. I just want to throw in one last morsel. Last week it was widely reported that Republican Hatch Leaves Bipartisan Health-Care Talks, which as a supporter of health care reform with a public option I regarded at least as a small positive sign that the balance might have swung a little. But given what we are being told now about the makeup of the Baucus Committee this seems to mean that the original ‘Bi-Partisan Committee’ was made up of FOUR REPUBLICANS and three democrats, and those latter three including a chairman hostile to progressive solutions and the author of the Social Security/Medicare gutting Conrad-Gregg legislation. What the hell is up with that?

I understand that it is hard to avoid people taking a least a little bow towards the Pete G. Peterson crowd, but given a 60-40 split turning over negotiations to a group split on paper 4-3 the other way, and given ideological predilections even farther than that is to turn the term ‘bi-partisan’ from an inside joke to an outright laugh riot.

Am I missing something here? Was it somehow not a Republican majority Gang of Seven that appointed itself to be the mediators on this issue? And if so why is Harry Reid even listening? What kind of a Majority Leader just abdicates leadership to the other side on what might be the defining piece of legislation of the decade?

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