Democrats seem to be headed for the climate, health wins after ups and downs

WASHINGTON – It has been over a year and has seen many ups and downs. Now, a democratic economic package focused on climate and health care faces hurdles, but looks headed towards Congress passing the party line next month.

The approval would allow President Joe Biden and his party to claim triumph over top priorities as the November elections approach. They haven’t forgotten that they came close to passing a much larger version of the bill last year, only to see Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., one of their more conservative and contrarian members, torpedo it at the 11th. Now.

This time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DNY, worked out a compromise package with Manchin, to everyone’s surprise, turning West Virginia from pariah to partner. The measure is more modest than previous versions, but still checks the boxes on issues that make Democrats dizzy.

Here’s what they face:

WHAT’S INSIDE?

The measure would raise $ 739 billion in revenue over 10 years and spend $ 433 billion. More than $ 300 billion would remain to cut federal deficits.

These are significant cuts with red ink. But they are miniscule compared to the $ 16 trillion of new debt that the nonpartisan estimates of the Congressional Budget Office will accumulate over the next decade.

The package would save consumers and the government money by lowering the prices of prescription drugs and subsidize private health insurance for millions of people. It would strengthen the IRS budget so that the revenue agency can collect more unpaid taxes.

The plan would favor clean energy and offshore energy drilling, a balance demanded by Manchin, a proponent of fossil fuels. It would also collect new taxes from larger corporations and wealthy hedge fund owners.

It’s a fraction of the $ 3.5 trillion package Biden proposed early in his presidency, which also included sums for initiatives like paid family leave and universal preschool. It is also lower than the roughly $ 2 trillion alternative that the House approved last November after Manchin called for cuts and then derailed the deal anyway, citing fears of inflation.

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IT IS NOW CALLED THE “INFLATION REDUCTION LAW”, BUT …

…He will do it? It certainly could, but there are dissidents.

First, some context.

According to a closely studied measure of inflation by the Federal Reserve, prices rose 6.8% in June compared to a year ago, the largest increase in four decades. This followed government data showing the economy shrank again in the last quarter, fueling recession concerns.

“Improved tax collection, drug savings and deficit reduction would put downward pressure on inflation,” the Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget said Friday. In what passes for an enthusiastic review, the bipartisan tax surveillance group called the legislation “exactly the kind of package that lawmakers should put in place to help the economy in a number of ways.”

“Deficit reduction is almost always a reduction in inflation,” Jason Furman, a Harvard University economics professor who was one of President Barack Obama’s top economic advisors, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. He said the measure will also reduce inflation by slowing the rise in prescription drug prices. ”

A sobering assessment came from the Penn Wharton Budget Model of the University of Pennsylvania, which analyzes economic issues.

“The act would slightly increase inflation until 2024 and decrease inflation thereafter,” the group wrote on Friday. “These point estimates are statistically indistinguishable from zero, thus indicating low confidence that the legislation will impact inflation.”

A chorus of Republicans says the Democrats’ bill would be largely damaging. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Calls it “a gigantic package of huge new tax hikes that kill work, the Green New Deal madness that will kill American energy and prescription drug socialism. that will leave us fewer new life-saving medicines. “

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CHANGES FORWARD

The 725-page size will likely change a little more.

Schumer said last week that Democrats plan to add language aimed at reducing patient costs for insulin, the diabetes drug that can cost hundreds of dollars a month.

Insulin price cuts were a highlight of Democrats’ broader package last year, including a $ 35 monthly cap for patients who get the drug through Medicare or private insurers. But that fell this year when the measure was reduced.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have produced a bill that limits the price of insulin. The outlook for such a measure waned after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost about $ 23 billion and actually raise the price of insulin. The two lawmakers also did not produce the 10 Republicans that would be needed to succeed in the 50-50 Senate, where most bills require 60 votes.

It’s unclear what the Democrats’ new insulin language would do. Previous language requiring private insurers to set a monthly insulin cap of $ 35 could violate the chamber’s rules, which only allow provisions that primarily affect the federal budget.

Also, according to the process the Democrats are using to get the measure passed in the House by simple majority, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting vote, it would have to deal with multiple amendments in an all-night voting session, and not c ‘is saying if some will pass.

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PERSPECTIVES

Every Republican seems ready to vote “no”.

Democrats will need all 50 of their votes in the Senate, where the unpredictable Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Has yet to give his opinion.

Democrats can’t lose more than four votes in the House to be successful there. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Friday that when the Senate approves the package, “we will pass it.”

Schumer wants a move to the Senate next week. He acknowledged that the timing “will be difficult” because it will take some time for the House MP to make sure the bill complies with Senate rules.

This too will require luck. All 50 Democrats, including both independents who support them, will need to be sane enough to stand up and vote.

It is not guaranteed. The latest, highly contagious variant of COVID-19 is spreading across the country. And the chamber has 33 senators who are 70 or older, including 19 Democrats.

Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., 77, was the last senator to announce that he contracted the disease. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., 82, exited after hip surgery. Both should be back next week.

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