TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2012
House GOP set to move on debt package
Trying to get their mojo back, House Republicans hope to move quickly this spring with a $261 billion deficit-reduction package to forestall automatic spending cuts next January that would fall heavily on defense.
The full details won’t be released until Tuesday morning, but the so-called reconciliation bill is a central part of the GOP’s budget strategy this year. And six House committees are expected to be instructed to report legislation before May that achieves the promised 10-year savings.
GOP Budget Targets Taxes
House Republicans, searching for an election-year message amid a muddled political and economic landscape, will introduce a 2013 budget Tuesday that cuts tax rates and provides for just two individual brackets of 10% and 25%.
The budget would end the Alternative Minimum Tax, which originally was aimed at the wealthy but ensnares a growing number of middle-class taxpayers each year. The plan would nearly eliminate U.S. taxes on American corporations’ earnings from overseas operations.
Durbin, Dem colleagues at odds over House bill to ease corporate regulations
Sen. Dick Durbin is fighting his top Democratic colleagues, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer, who want to move a bill easing regulation of Wall Street.
Despite mounting election pressures, Durbin (D-Ill.) is digging in his heels against giving new companies a five-year exemption from accounting and corporate governance rules.
House GOP weighs new gas-price bill
House Republicans are planning new legislation to thwart Environmental Protection Agency rules that they argue could worsen rising gasoline prices.
While details remain scarce, the new bill could provide Republicans a rallying point for continued attacks on the White House’s energy and environmental policies.
Health-care reform: What to watch for
We all know the big things to watch for this year about the health care reform law: the Supreme Court and the elections.
But those aren’t the only things that will matter.
The law turns two years old on Friday, and its third year will see other milestones that will determine how it works — if it survives. States have to do their part to implement it, and some will do little or nothing. Health care providers have to decide whether to participate in experiments on controlling costs and testing new ways of delivering care.
Insurers Set Plans in Case Mandate Is Quashed
The insurance industry and advocates of the health-care overhaul are sketching out contingency plans in case the Supreme Court strikes down a central part of the law in the coming months.
Their worst-case scenario: The court knocks out the law’s mandate that most Americans carry insurance or pay a fee but leaves in place requirements that insurers sell policies to all applicants. The result, they say, would be spiraling insurance premiums, because sick people would buy insurance and nothing would stop healthy people from waiting to buy it until they needed it.
OPINION: Preserving the Medicare Guarantee: Why I’ve Been Working with Paul Ryan (Sen. Ron Wyden)
People on both sides of the aisle want to know why a progressive Democrat is working with the author of last year’s House Budget on Medicare reform. Here’s why:
U.S. Energy-Efficiency Program Falls Short, Report Says
A $5 billion federal program designed to reduce electricity bills for low-income households sometimes funded shoddy work that left homeowners worse off, according to a congressional report released Tuesday.
The report from Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee offers new details on a program that other government auditors have cited for management problems. The findings were likely to spur criticism of the Department of Energy program and the 2009 economic-stimulus law, which gave the program funding equal to more than 11 times its previous annual budget of $450 million.
Policymakers Weigh Gathering More Data for NAEP
As many experts raise questions about the future of “the nation’s report card,” the governing board for the assessment program is exploring changes aimed at leveraging the achievement data to better inform education policy and practice.
The core idea, outlined in a report to the board, is to expand and make far greater use of the background information collected when the National Assessment of Educational Progress is given. In doing so, the report suggests, NAEP could identify factors that may differentiate high-performing states and urban districts from low performers.
Senators to Pentagon: No troop cuts until Congress gets a say in budget
The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee are warning the Pentagon: Don’t make any sudden moves without consulting us first.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Monday urging the Pentagon not to reduce forces until the congressional committees have authorized the 2013 Defense budget.