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Health Care Reform Before The Holidays?

December 18, 2009 - by David Moore

It's the weekend before the upcoming Holiday Week... where do we stand on health care reform? Click through for a roundup of Congress Links w/ all the landscape and handy help resources you need to make sense of the debate. View and vote on the health care bills...

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House Approves Defense Spending Bill, Another CR

December 16, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

Once again, I was caught unawares by the House, as it approved a $636 billion Defense Spending Bill yesterday afternoon. The text of the legislation wasn't posted online until sometime after 10 p.m. last night, and while we've been expecting action on it for the past few weeks, it still came as a surprise.

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The Senate last night voted down an amendment that would have allowed American to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from overseas, where prices are usually much lower. If it had passed and been added to the Senate health care bill, it has been estimated to save consumers $80 billion on drugs over the next ten years and the government $19 billion over the same period.

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If "Reinstate Glass-Steagall" didn't sound so arcane, it would have been the lead rallying cry for the financial reform movement over the last year. More than any other act of Congress, the 1999 law to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, a New-Deal-era law separating commercial banking from investment banking, has been named as a main cause of the collapse and, more significantly, the resulting bailouts of "too big to fail" banks.

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As recently as September 8, 2009, Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] was pushing to allow people to buy into Medicare. This weekend, he said that he would vote to filibuster any health care bill that contains such a provision.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

December 13, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

This week, Congress will be working to finish up and pass a bill to fund the Department of Defense by Friday in order to avoid having to extend a continuing resolution to keep the department funded and punting the issue further down the road. The health care debate will also be continuing in the Senate

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House Approves Wall Street Reform Bill

December 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

More than one year after the crisis on Wall Street, the House of Representatives today passed a landmark bill (H.R. 4173) to fix some of the regulatory lapses that are alleged to have caused the crisis and puts in place new mechanisms for preventing "too big to fail" banking and the resulting bailouts.

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Should Federal Regulations be a Floor or a Ceiling?

December 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House today is expected to vote on and pass the Democrats' comprehensive financial regulations overhaul bill (H.R. 4173). But before they do, they'll likely approve an amendment from the pro-business New Democrats Coalition to pre-empt tougher state laws. Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration have been fighting against this for months.

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All About the Medicaid Expansion

December 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Chris Bowers at OpenLeft reminds us why progressive Democrats in the House are almost certainly going to support health care reform regardless of how weak the public option gets: The largest public option in the health care bills is, and has always been, the significant expansion of Medicaid. In terms of the number of people it covers, this expansion dwarfs any other public option expansion currently on the table in Congress. In terms of the type of people it covers, the Medicaid expansion i...

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'Minibus' Budget Bill Passes the House

December 10, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

A couple of weeks ago we wrote of the possibility of Congress rolling the remaining appropriations bills into one package so lawmakers could approve the legislation before the end-of-year recess. Aside from that deadline, a continuing resolution (the second one this year) is set to expire on Dec. 18, and that would leave major portions of the federal government without funding.

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'Tis the Season

December 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

...for Republican resolutions in defense of Christmas. Here's the full text of the one Rep. Henry Brown [R, SC-1] introduced this year: H.Res.951 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas. Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of relig...

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Time to Face the Deficit

December 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The financial collapse, the Wall Street bailout and the two wars we have been fighting for the past seven years have brought the federal deficit to a record high. In order to keep the country from defaulting and to accommodate a new jobs bill to stem off a growing unemployment problem, Congress is now upping the amount they plan to increase the public debt ceiling by.

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A Word of Caution

December 9, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Jon Walker at FDL says Senate progressives and people like Howard Dean are getting behind the new Medicare buy-in proposal too quickly. Some of the most important details that could determine whether or not it's effective at all have yet to be seen, he writes: My greater fear is that this “Medicare buy-in” has already been gutted or will soon be gutted of all value. Kent Conrad is pushing to decouple this Medicare buy-in from Medicare. Conrad wants to make it fake Medicare. He wants people in ...

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Democrats in the Senate have negotiated a new deal to break the impasse on health care reform. It involves getting rid of the public option altogether, but, somehow, all the liberal Democrats seem to like it. It appears to have three parts:

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Obama Admin. Issues Open Gov Directive

December 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The White House today issued an 11-page Open Government Directive (.pdf) that directs federal agencies and departments on how to make government more transparent, participatory and collaborative.

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