The deals keep coming following a marathon meeting Wednesday. Reports have also emerged of an apparent deal is taking shape, and it looks like collectively-bargained benefits will be exempt for a period of time from the new excise tax on high-value insurance plans.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein looks at the makeup of yesterday’s informal conference meeting between the White House and congressional leaders.
NPR’s Julie Rovner says the deal “marks the beginning of the endgame” in House and Senate negotiations. She cautions that there’s still several steps to go: “So whether or not President Obama gets to sign a bill by end of this month or the first week of February, however, is still anyone’s guess.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey thinks an exemption for union-negotiated health plans runs afoul of the Constitution: “A sliding scale? That would mean that the tax would not be applied universally to all citizens, which could run afoul of Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. Specifically, that states that Congress has the power to levy taxes, ‘but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States[.]‘”
Heritage’s Conn Carroll isn’t happy with what was reportedly negotiated: “Now Big Labor will get all of the big government health care spending they always wanted, but they will not have to pay for it. And Obamacare’s Big Labor handouts don’t end there. The legislation also sets aside $5 billion to subsidize the costs of employer health benefits for early retirees.”
Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics analyzes a count of undecided House Dems and says, “Still, I think it is far [too] hasty to say that this reform is inevitable. Minimally, the margin in the House is going to be razor-thin either way. We know that for sure, which in turn suggests that we shouldn’t take final passage for granted.”
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky looks at statements from legislators pledging to overturn parts of the health overhaul bills so as not to implement them, and says, “For reform to work, lawmakers who have pledged to “roll back provisions” of reform should not be responsible for implementing it. House and Senate negotiators must adopt the House bill’s more centralized approach or develop a compromise that establishes a national exchange but allows states a certain level of flexibility.”
And the American Spectator’s Philip Klein, who says he is “absolutely in favor of any efforts to repeal” cautions that such efforts are unlikely to be successful: “At the same time, however, I think that if the health care bill gets signed into law, it’s highly unlikely Republicans will be able to repeal it, or even major portions of it. Most Democrats won’t be eager to overturn the greatest domestic achievement of their party since 1965 — and you’d need to pass the repeal through the House, through the Senate with 60 votes, and then have the President sign it. … … So, while I think it’s certainly worth aiming for, opponents of Obamacare must also be thinking about ways to reform the system if the repeal effort isn’t successful.”