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Washington Watch - September 21, 2011

Obama's Deficit Reduction Plan: By The Numbers

President Obama this week unveiled a proposal to reduce the deficit and pay for his recently introduced American Jobs Act . Here's how the plan breaks down:

  • Reduce U.S. borrowing by $3.2 trillion over the next ten years
  • This amount is in addition to the Super Committee's required reduction of $1.2 trillion
  • $500 billion in savings to pay for the implementation of the American Jobs Act
  • Savings from Medicare and Medicaid cuts totalling $320 billion
  • Additional revenue from nearly $1.6 trillion in tax increases
  • Savings from the costs of war amounting to about $1.1 trillion

Read more details here and here.

What Does Health Care Consolidation Mean For Consumers?

On Sept. 9th, the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the ever increasing consolidation in the health-care industry. Though it appeared both Republicans and Democrats were wary of consolidation’s affect on health care costs, they provided different views on whether the 2010 health reform law is a contributing factor or not. 

Subcommittee Chair Wally Herger (R-Calif.) said that because the new regulations in the Affordable Care Act increase costs for many providers, they have no choice but to become folded into larger companies. Insurance plan consolidation leads to less coverage options and fewer carriers paying claims, Herger added. 

Meanwhile, the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said that consolidation was a topic that has worried Democrats, and that he looks forward to developing “a more integrated, outcomes-focused healthcare delivery system” with Republicans in the committee. 

The witnesses’ disagreed on ways to combat the problem, with one criticizing antitrust laws that prevent physicians from negotiation compensation with carriers unless they are integrated, while another said consolidation leads to greater quality.

Finance Committee Asks: Should The Rich Pay More Taxes?

On Sept. 14th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing regarding tax rates on high-income earners, capital gains and dividends. Although Democrats and Republicans appeared to agree tax reform is an important puzzle in fixing the struggling economy and high unemployment, they expressed deep philosophical differences on how to move forward.

Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said there was only one common-sense solution to the problem: Allow lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans to expire, rather than making major cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Cutting Social Security or Medicare would only harm veterans, senior citizens and middle class families, Baucus added.

Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) accused Democrats of being “tax-and-spend liberals” who are out of touch with the views of most Americans, and added Democrats are using terms like “balanced approach” and “revenues on the table” as euphemisms for higher taxes.

Read more about the hearing on the NASE’s blog, SelfMade.

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