National Review’s Robert Costa says House Republicans have worked out the framework of the “final offer” they’re going to forward to Democrats in exchange for ending the partial Federal government shutdown.
As you would expect from this Boehner-led caucus, the items in the deal range from disappointing to troubling. Plenty for the GOP Cave Crew, not so much for conservatives.
What I’m hearing: There will be a “mechanism” for revenue-neutral tax reform, ushered by Ryan and Michigan’s Dave Camp, that will encourage deeper congressional talks in the coming year.
“Encourage deeper congressional talks” means “it’s never going to happen.” Remember when the Super Committee was encouraged to have deeper talks to stave off sequestration?
There will be entitlement-reform proposals, most likely chained CPI and means testing Medicare; there will also be some health-care provisions, such as a repeal of the medical-device tax, which has bipartisan support in both chambers. Boehner, sources say, is expected to go as far as he can with his offer. Anything too small will earn conservative ire; anything too big will turn off Democrats.
“Means testing Medicare” is a delicate translation for “another redistributive welfare program.” You get to pay into Medicare your entire working life and then, if you’re responsible with your money and wise in investing it (which you have to be, because you know Social Security won’t be there for you when you retire), you get NOTHING BACK.
If we’re means testing who can and can’t receive Medicare benefits, I’d be for means testing who should and shouldn’t make contributions to Medicare. If your income is below a certain threshold and it’s clear you’re going to be one of the means tested recipients of Medicare, you pay in during your working years as a medical savings account. If you’re above the threshold that will be able to receive Medicare, you don’t have to pay into it. Otherwise, it’s another redistributive hand-out.
How could any conservative be behind means testing Medicare or Social Security? It’s the antithesis of what we’re supposed to stand for.
House leaders are also looking at how to include some energy demands, such as the Keystone pipeline, but tax reform and entitlements are looking to be the core of the offer, and the medical-device tax is seen as the rare health-care demand that’s viable as part of a deal. Repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, for example, may be part of any initial offer, just to make the Republican position clear, but it’s not seen by House insiders as something that has much traction in the Senate, or as something that President Obama would support, even under pressure. The goal, it seems, isn’t to cut a big deal that includes revenue concessions, which Boehner knows would face criticism in his conference, but a guidance for tax reform and a group of items he knows will pass conservative muster.
The plan here is to ask for just enough to keep us quiet. Someone please explain to me how repealing the Medical Device Tax is going to help the hundreds of thousands of people forced into part-time work by Obamacare, or the hundreds of thousands of people whose premiums just got jacked up because they’re forced to buy coverage they don’t need or want, or the hundreds of thousands of people who were dropped from their employer’s health plans because of Obamacare.
It doesn’t. It helps those medical device businesses a little, and a very small percentage of consumers. It does nothing to address Obamacare’s root problems.