It didn’t take long for Senate Democrats to rebuke Barack Obama over his high-handed demand this weekend to pass a $50 billion spending package aimed at bailing out state governments. Instead, Harry Reid and his colleagues have begun chopping it into a somewhat less egregious deficit buster, hoping to convince a few Republicans to peel off and get it to a floor vote. The new package will toss the AMA under the bus:
President Obama’s urgent plea for more spending on the economy ran into the political buzz saw of the Senate on Tuesday, where Democratic leaders began chopping apart an aid package for unemployed workers and state governments in an effort to lessen its impact on the deficit.
The slimmed-down measure was still evolving late Tuesday. But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) was trying to salvage one of Obama’s top priorities — $24 billion to avert the layoffs of state workers — by scaling back other pieces of the sprawling package, including a provision to postpone a scheduled pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients. Instead of postponing the cut until 2012, Reid is considering protecting doctors only through the rest of this year.
Reid also took aim at jobless benefits, which some Democrats complained may be too generous in a time of economic recovery. While the revised package would extend emergency benefits through the end of November, aides said it also would take $25 out of the weekly checks received by 15 million unemployed workers, repealing a payment boost first approved in last year’s economic stimulus package.
Those changes were aimed at slicing billions of dollars from the overall cost of the package and attracting the support of moderates in both parties who objected to the original price tag. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the original measure would have increased deficits by $80 billion over the next decade.
Doctors who supported ObamaCare on the promise that Democrats would pass the “doctor fix” will be shocked, shocked to find that Reid won’t keep his word. The AMA only got on board when Obama, Reid, and Nancy Pelosi promised them that the Medicare reimbursement cuts would get eliminated, which didn’t make it into the CBO’s calculations of the bill. Rescinding the cuts in 2011 and 2012 means that doctors won’t be able to rely on Medicare for their long-term business plans, which makes the temporary suspension of cuts in 2010 rather pointless.
Also note that the unemployed will also pay for Reid’s problems with Pay-Go. Senator Jim Bunning took a great deal of criticism when he delayed the last extension of unemployment benefits to point out the fact that Democrats didn’t pay for the spending according to Pay-Go rules. At the time, just three months ago, the media partnered with Democrats in pillorying Bunning for demanding fiscal discipline and an end to Democrats’ Pay-Go hypocrisy. Now that Reid has stripped the monies for the unemployed from this bill because of its impact on the deficit, will they hold Reid to the same (ridiculous) standard as Bunning?
Don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, notice the purpose for which Reid has tossed doctors and the unemployed under the bus. The part of the bill Reid is attempting to salvage is the state bailouts, intended to rescue bureaucrats’ jobs for the second year in a row. Like the previous Porkulus bailout, it’s cast as saving the jobs of teachers, but all that does is allow states to redirect funds from education to protect other parts of their unionized bureaucracies. Reid is making doctors, their patients, and the unemployed pay for the protection of the SEIU and AFSCME.