Dems Dismiss a Potential Debt Ceiling Solution

Dems Dismiss a Potential Debt Ceiling Solution

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Thursday, March 23, 2023

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Jeffries Dismisses Complicated Plan to Raise Debt Limit

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) on Thursday poured cold water on a plan circulating among some Democratic lawmakers to pass a “clean” debt limit increase by using a parliamentary procedure called a discharge petition, which forces a bill to receive a floor vote under specific circumstances.

Noting that Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times under former President Donald Trump, Jeffries instead called on GOP lawmakers to do so again under the leadership of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (D-CA). “The most viable option right now is for the extreme MAGA Republicans in the House to get their act together and do what they consistently did when Donald Trump was the president of the United States of America,” Jeffries told reporters.

A discharge petition is a difficult parliamentary maneuver that requires collecting 218 signatures, so a handful of Republicans would need to back the plan assuming all 213 Democrats supported it. The bill would need to sit in committee for 30 legislative days, which could take months to play out. And restrictions on how and when the bill can be introduced make the procedure that much more difficult.

In the end, Jeffries said the problem is in the hands of the GOP. “Right now, the option that is in front of us are the extreme MAGA Republicans doing the right thing by the American people,” he said.

Accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeffries also presented the conclusions of a report by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee that show just how damaging a debt default would be. According to the analysis, a default on U.S. debt could reduce the value of retirement savings for the average worker by $20,000 due to a sharp drop in the stock market. New home buyers would pay an extra $54,000 on their mortgages as a result of higher interest rates, and the lifetime cost of an average loan on a new car would rise by $800.

Biden 2024 Budget Would Impose a Significant Tax Hike on Top 1%: Report

The tax provisions in President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal would raise incomes at the bottom of the income distribution while lowering them at the top, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

The Biden plan “would raise average after-tax incomes for low-income households in 2024, leave them effectively unchanged for middle-income households, and lower after-tax incomes significantly for the highest-income taxpayers,” TPC’s Howard Gleckman wrote Thursday.

Households earning $31,000 a year or less would see their after-tax incomes rise by about 3.2%, or $600. Those earning between $60,000 and $107,000 a year would see little or no change. Top 1% households — those earning at least $1 million — would pay $300,000 more in taxes on average, an increase of about 14%. And those in the top 0.1% would see their tax bills rise by almost $2 million on average, resulting in a 20% reduction in their after-tax incomes.

“The president is nothing if not consistent,” Gleckman writes. “As Biden has made clear since his 2020 campaign, he wants to raise taxes substantially on high-income households and corporations and provide modest tax cuts to low- and moderate-income households. And, like it or not, that’s what his budget does.”


Biden Celebrates ACA Anniversary, Lashes Out at GOP

President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on this date in 2010 — and Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time, memorably labeled the occasion a “big f---ing deal” in a remark caught on a hot mic.

Biden, now president, celebrated the law’s 13th anniversary on Thursday at another event in the White House, this time without F bombs — but with some choice words for Republicans.

“I think most people would agree: the most consequential piece of health care legislation since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965,” Biden said.

“I remember the three words I used at the time. I thought it was a big deal," he added, crossing himself. “And I stand by the fact it was a big deal.”

Biden touted the ways his administration has expanded or fortified the law and sought to lower health care costs. Then he went after Republicans, who for years sought to repeal the health care reform law and now would like to roll back the Inflation Reduction Act Biden signed last year.

“Even now, MAGA Republicans in Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act when it’s clear it would have a devastating impact on the American people,” Biden said. “A former Trump director of budget advising the MAGA Republicans in Congress has a plan to slash $2 trillion from Medicaid. I guess that shows a little bit of their value set. He wants to end Medicare expansion under the Affordable Care Act and make additional deep cuts that could lead to nearly 70 million people losing critical services. Seventy million people, most of whom are seniors, people with disabilities and children.

A new record for Obamacare enrollment: “The anniversary event took place the same day the Department of Health and Human Services released an annual report showing that a record 16.4 million consumers have private health plans through insurance marketplaces created under the law,” The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein notes. “That enrollment level in ACA health plans, designed for people who cannot get affordable health benefits through a job, compares with about 14.5 million for 2022, a previous record, and 11.4 million the year before Biden took office, the federal tally shows.”

North Carolina approves Medicaid expansion: The White House event also comes as lawmakers in North Carolina on Thursday approved a deal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act following a decade-long fight.

“[I]nterest in expansion grew over the past year as lawmakers concluded that Congress was neither likely to repeal the law nor raise the low 10% state match that coverage requires,” Gary D. Robertson of the Associated Press explains. “A financial sweetener contained in a COVID-19 recovery law means North Carolina also would get an estimated extra $1.75 billion in cash over two years if it expands Medicaid.”

The expansion would make nearly 180,000 uninsured adults in the state eligible for coverage, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, though some estimates say roughly 600,000 people could be helped.

The move leaves just 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid. Those 10, which all have either a Republican governor or GOP-controlled legislature, are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

South Dakota has yet to implement the expansion approved by voters there in a November referendum.

New Drug Shortages Rose Almost 30% From 2021 to 2022: Report

Shortages of critical medications continue to rise, according to an investigative report released Wednesday by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

New drug shortages rose nearly 30% between 2021 and 2022, climbing to a five-year high of 295 individual drugs that were in short supply, according to the report. “While the average drug shortage lasts about 1.5 years, more than 15 critical drug products have been in shortage for over a decade,” the report adds. “Shortages continue to have devastating consequences for patients and health care providers, including medication errors and treatment delays, and in some cases, have led to doctors having to ration lifesaving treatments.”

The report blamed the shortages on economic and supply chain factors, increased demand and an overreliance on foreign suppliers including China and India for raw materials. Nearly 80% of manufacturing facilities producing active pharmaceutical ingredients are outside the United States, Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) said Wednesday.

The report recommended increased public-private partnership investments in manufacturing technologies for critical generic drug products. It also called on Congress to require the Health, Defense and Homeland Security Departments to jointly conduct regular supply chain risk assessments and require manufacturers to report when they experience an increase in demand or export restrictions. And it said that the Food and Drug Administration should take steps to make its supply chain data more useful and that the government should coordinate better data sharing “through a singular initiative to map the entire pharmaceutical supply chain.”

Quote of the Day

“Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are. … The Northerners and the Westerners put cool whip on their Jell-O, and the Southerners put cottage cheese.”

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an independent, as quoted by Politico describing the atmosphere at weekly lunches attended by Democratic senators.

As Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports, Sinema has been courting Republicans by trashing her old party. One Republican donor reportedly told Sinema that she “carried the water for us in this last Congress” on policy matters. “Without you, our taxes would’ve gone through the roof,” the donor said, to which Sinema replied, “They would have.”

Martin says that Sinema has become particularly close with one group of wealthy donors. “It’s hard to overstate Sinema’s closeness with private equity, in particular,” he writes. “She spent part of her 2020 summer recess interning at a Sonoma winery owned by an executive in the industry; she single-handedly ensured taxing carried interest on private equity earnings was kept out of the IRA legislation … And one senior administration official told me they’ve concluded the way to win Sinema’s vote on a crucial agency nominee is to have private equity executives weigh in with her.”


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