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House to Vote on Abortion Tax Bill

May 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Under current law, no federal funding can be used for abortions except in cases of incest or rape. But that fact isn't stopping House Republicans from using the false premise of blocking federal funding for abortions to push legislation that would make it harder for women to use their own money to finance abortion services. Their misleadingly-titled "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" is lined up for a vote today, and, with 227 co-sponsors, it is expected to pass.

UPDATE: This passed the House, 251-175.

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Almost a year after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the misinformation campaign about what's in it just won't stop. The most recent example is from Rep. Michelle Bachmann [R, MN-6], who claims that the Democrats snuck more than a hundred billion dollars in the bill and passed it secretly without public review. But Bachmann's either lying or she has no idea what she's talking about because her claims are just flat-out false.

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Sounds A Lot Like Obamacare

January 20, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Republican House majority yesterday passed a bill to repeal health care reform (H.R.2) and today passed a resolution calling on four House committees to draft legislation to replace it (H.Res.9). As I've been explaining on this blog, the whole repeal effort is purely political. It's not a serious effort by the Republicans at fixing the problems they see in the health care law, and the resolution they passed today just underscores that fact. The resolution spells out 12 principles for what should be in the replacement bill, many of which are features of the law they voted to repeal.

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Killing Financial Reform by Defunding the Regulators

December 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

There was something odd about the death of the omnibus appropriations bill last week. The bill would have funded the government at the exact level requested by the Republican leadership and of the oft-criticized earmarks in the bill, the top beneficiaries would have been Republicans. The bill was produced through a long, bipartisan, and mostly agreeable committee process.

So why did the Republicans suddenly turn against it?

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The Tax Cut No One Noticed

October 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Did you notice that your federal tax bill was lower last year? If you're like most people, you didn't. But believe it or not, one of the first things Barack Obama and 111th Congress did when they took office in 2009 was pass an income tax cut for about 95% of U.S. tax payers. The New York Times reported yesterday on why this went so unnoticed:

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Like most big pieces of legslation, the health care reform bill (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) shunts a lot of specific policy decisions off to different agencies and regulators to be made after it becomes law. Yet, as soon as things move out of Congress and the big political battles end, hardly any attention is paid to to the process by which legislation actually starts to take effect.

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McCain: We Will Defund Health Care Reform

March 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] describes an emerging Republican strategy for undoing the Democrats' new health care reform law.

"When I say repeal, people say you're not going to be able to do it," he said on KQTH FM Radio. "I am confident we will get majorities in both houses in the fall. And that means the power of the purse...If we cut off the money, it doesn't take an override to a veto."

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We've been tracking the health care reform bill for more than a year on OpenCongress, but today our coverage of the bill takes a sharp turn. The health care bill, H.R. 3590, is Public Law No: 111-148. President Obama signed the bill into law this morning at 11:20 eastern, officially putting an end to the legislative process and transferring it into the process of being implemented by the states and the federal government. We'll be continuing to cover health care reform as it takes effect and the public debate evolves.

To clarify, the Senate is still working on finalizing an amendment to the health care bill, known as the Reconciliation Act of 2010, but regardless of whether that passes, health care reform has been entered in the Federal Register and will begin taking effect immediately. Here's a quick roundup of handy links.

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On a party-line vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives has passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that fulfills President Obama's goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. The bill has already passed the Senate and will be sent to President Obama immediately to be signed into law.

"At a time when pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics," President Obama said after the vote. "This is what change looks like."

The bill is widely considered the biggest domestic policy achievement by any President or session of Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law 45 years ago, creating Medicare.

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Health Care Reform and Mammogram Guidelines

November 23, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Congressional Republicans have pointed to a recent government task force recommendation that women begin screening for breast cancer later in life and less frequently as an example of rationing that would result from the Democrats' health care bills. Click through for an analysis of the charges citing the actual text of the bills.

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Senate Health Care Bill Online Disclosure Provisions

November 19, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

The Senate health care reform bill (viewable here) contains numerous provisions that stress disclosure and transparency, specifically online disclosure and transparency. These provisions acknowledge that information that is meant to be disclosed and available to the public must be made available online.

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Bloomberg reports that the health care bill reported out of the Senate Finance Committee (S. 1796) contains numerous provisions aimed at specific states. These enticements could be used to secure wavering Democrats or allow senators in tough 2010 election races to tout to constituents.

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In the continuing health care debate the public option remains as the key puzzle piece in the Democrats' health care package. Today, the Senate Finance Committee is debating and voting on amendments to include a public option in their version of health care reform legislation.

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Everything In Its Right Place

September 22, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

The mark-up of the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is currently underway. (You can watch the proceedings on C-Span here.) While much of this morning may be filled with vacuous speech-making by the committee's members, there are over 500 amendments to be voted on over the next few days. Slate has done an excellent job in creating a Google spreadsheet of every (or almost every) amendment to the bill. Check it out as a guide to the process.

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As the summer of the Democrats' discontent winds to a close, the head count for health care reform in the Senate begins in earnest. One of the key Democratic senators on the fence is Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2010 election. Lincoln jumped into the news today with a quote to a reporter stating her opposition to a public option plan in a health care reform bill. "I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that," Lincoln said. The senior Arkansas senator is also the top recipient of campaign contributions from the health industry among senators this year.

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