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Washington Watch - December 17, 2009

Note From The Editor: Holiday Hiatus Through January

It’s been a busy year in Washington, D.C., from the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president to the policy debates on health care reform and the economy. As 2009 draws to a close, the Washington Watch team wants to wish its readers a very happy holidays and New Year. We look forward to returning in mid-January with updates on micro-business topics and legislative news from Capitol Hill.


Kristin Oberlander, Editor

Health Care Update: Senate Bill Looms As Lawmakers Wait On Cost Estimate

One day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped proposals to expand Medicare and implement a public insurance option from the health care package, most liberal Democrats supportive of those measures said they would still vote for the bill.

At a briefing this week, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president "believes that the nation is never going to have an opportunity as good as the one we have right now," in regards to public and congressional support. In a meeting early this week, President Obama warned Democrats not to allow the lack of a public option to weaken liberal support for the legislation.

“Senators continue to work together toward that goal because even though we may have differences of opinion on the details, we all share the strong belief in the differences we can make for the American people," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Leaders for the GOP wrote a letter to the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. The letter reads:

“We believe CBO’s complete analysis of the perfecting amendment needs to be made available to Senators well before a vote on the amendment occurs. Accordingly, CBO's analysis must be completed quickly to provide for sufficient time for review of the analysis so that Senators and the public are fully informed about the implications of the latest version of the plan on the federal budget and the health care system.”

Republican leadership say they need to know cost estimates for (1) the extent of the cuts to Medicare in the amendment and their impact on beneficiary access to providers of their choice, (2) the amendment’s impact on premiums, (3) the amendment’s impact on net federal spending on health care, (4) the amendment's gross and net impact on employer sponsored coverage, and (5) the amendment’s impact on the growth of national health expenditures (such as bending the cost curve).

Read the entire letter sent to the Congressional Budget Office from GOP committee leaders.

Legislative Alert: House Likely To Pass Jobs Bill

The House has proposed legislation that would allocate additional funds in 2010 for job creation. The proposal would provide funding for additional small business loans, infrastructure development, school renovation grants and to hire additional law enforcement and firefighting officials across the nation. The small business loan programs would be boosted with $354 million, allocated to the Small Business Administration (SBA), to continue two temporary loan guarantee authorities.

Read a summary of the Jobs For Main Street Act.

2009 Year-End Tax Information

According to the IRS, taxpayers can get the most out of new recovery tax breaks and get a jump on preparing their 2009 federal income tax returns by consulting a newly revised comprehensive tax guide now available on IRS.gov.

The NASE also offers line-by-line assistance to sole proprietors who file a Schedule C (Form 1040) each year. Visit the NASE Publications link to view Schedule C: From A to Z online.

Small Biz Health Care Roundup

Here is the latest health care reform news as it relates to micro-businesses and the self-employed. Please send submissions to media@nase.org.

  • Obama Health Care Meeting Aims to Rally Senators (NY Times) - As the battle over health care lurches toward a conclusion, President Obama is confronting an increasingly sharp divide on the Democratic left, with liberals in the Senate and the House split on a critical question: How much of what they want is enough?"
  • Health Reform Update: Senate Debates Cost-Saver For Self-Employed (NASE Staff Blog) - Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu (La.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) have introduced Tax Equity for the Self-Employed amendment (S. AMDT # 3013), which would allow sole proprietors to deduct as a business expense 50% of their health premium costs. This amendment is under consideration by the Senate for inclusion in the health reform package.
  • Democrats' Health Care Wish List Cut Short (Fox News) - "For the second time in less than two weeks, President Barack Obama cajoled restive Democrats on Tuesday, urging them not to lose perspective amid intense intraparty battles over government's role and reach in health care. The public plan liberals hoped for appeared dead in the Senate, as did a Medicare buy-in scheme offered as a fallback."

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Visit NASE Advocacy to view archived editions of Washington Watch. While you’re there, read the latest updates from the Washington, D.C. office, write your Congressperson, and find out how you can join the fight for micro-business.

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