Monday, October 26, 2015

Could they really be doing something?

Rumors of a possible budget deal between the White House and congressional leaders has become a New York Times story which suggests the deal is close to completed.

Apart from avoiding potential upcoming unpleasantness over the debt ceiling as well as funding the government, the two year deal also reportedly remedies the scheduled 50% rise in Medicare B premiums for many seniors (including me).  The Times:

The prospective agreement would also prevent expected increases in out-of-pocket costs for millions of Medicare Part B beneficiaries. The increases would have been caused by the rare absence of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security for some beneficiaries, because of unusually low inflation.

The headlines will say that cuts are made in Medicare and Social Security but these appear to be technical and administrative, and do not affect benefits, including to the disabled.

The story does not deal with political prospects for its passage by Congress.  So stay tuned.

Update: As of Monday evening, according to the Washington Post, the deal has been taken to Republican members in the House and Senate.  Conservatives have signaled that they aren't going to contest the debt ceiling hike this time, but no word yet on the other elements of this two year budget deal.

Update 2: As of late Monday, a CNN story says a number of Republicans are upset by the deal, but the story agrees with earlier stories that probably there are enough Republicans to join with Democrats to pass the deal, which the current House Speaker John Banal will likely bring to the floor on Wednesday, just before Paul Ryan is nominated as the next Speaker.

Update 3: Just before midnight Monday House GOPer leaders introduced the budget deal bill on the House floor, ensuring that it will come to a vote no later than Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. (As you recall from Civics, spending bills must originate in the House.) The provision preventing the Medicare premium rise from going into effect is in this bill.

Update 4 Tues: The Washington Post summarizes the provisions in more detail, while the New York Times narrates how the deal came about--a combination of the unique circumstance of a Speaker leaving, and President Obama's firmness in budget priorities, backed by congressional Democrats.  According to the Post, the rise in Medicare premiums will be $18 a month, instead of $54.  Still an unusually large jump in premiums.  The House is expected to vote on the package Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.  It's expected to pass in both houses.

Update Wednesday: The House passed the bill with only 79 Republican votes, 266-167. No major changes in it were reported.

Update Friday: After a nightime fillibuster by Rand Paul and other GOPers, the budget bill passed the Senate on Friday, and President Obama announced he would sign it.  The immediate effect is to avoid the government running out of money in a few days, and another preposterous fight over authorizing the US to pay its debts.  But the Medicare provision remains in the law.

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