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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 26, 2009 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan 5770

The defeat that made Reid look like a putz

By Jack Kelly

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," wrote Sir Walter Scott in his 1808 poem, "Marmion."


I doubt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has read "Marmion." But he now has a pretty good idea of what Sir Walter Scott meant.


Democrats have been tying themselves into knots in their efforts to conceal from the public the true cost of Obamacare. Last Wednesday, their schemes came crashing down around Harry Reid's ears.


Democrats were heartened Oct. 7 when the Congressional Budget Office said the version of Obamacare drafted by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would cost "only" $829 billion over 10 years. The CBO had scored versions proposed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the leading House bill at more than $1 trillion.


Mr. Baucus achieved his apparent savings partly by omitting the "public option" dear to liberal hearts, partly by not covering all of the currently uninsured. But he achieved them mostly by front-loading tax increases and cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, but delaying most spending increases for two and a half years. Once the spending increases went into effect, they rapidly would overwhelm the "savings." By the 11th year, the Baucus bill would add massively to the deficit.


There was a problem with this gimmick, though. Mr. Baucus proposed to save money in Medicare by gutting the Medicare Advantage program, in which 23 percent of seniors are enrolled, and by slashing the payments doctors and hospitals receive for treating Medicare patients.


Medicare currently reimburses doctors only 94 cents for each dollar of health-care services provided. To slash payments another 21.5 percent, as Mr. Baucus proposed, would not be popular with doctors. And if payments were slashed, many doctors who now treat Medicare patients would stop seeing them, which would not be popular with Medicare patients.


To fix this problem, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., proposed to block the Medicare reimbursement cuts for 10 years. The logical thing to do would have been to offer the Stabenow proposal as an amendment to the Baucus bill. But if that were done, the cost of the Baucus bill would rise by $247 billion over 10 years, according to the CBO. Democrats could no longer claim it was deficit neutral.


To Mr. Reid, the solution was to offer the Stabenow measure as a separate bill and pretend it had nothing to do with the Obamacare plan. But last Wednesday, 13 Democrats joined all the Republicans in opposing this fiscal sleight of hand.


The defeat made Mr. Reid look like a putz. Majority leaders aren't supposed to bring measures to the floor unless they have the votes, and he got beat bad. (Mr. Reid needed 60 votes to take up the Stabenow bill; he got 47.)


In defeat, Mr. Reid then acted like a putz. He blamed the loss on the failure of the American Medical Association to deliver Republican votes. "Reid told colleagues that the AMA said it could deliver 27 Republican votes for the legislation, according to two Senate Democratic lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity," The Hill newspaper reported.


Even if that were true — the AMA says it isn't — it's not a very politic thing to say about a lobbying group whose help Mr. Reid will need to get Obamacare passed. (Only about 17 percent of physicians belong to the AMA, a fact which journalists who write about health care ought to note, but rarely do.)


Many Republicans do support giving doctors relief from Medicare reimbursement cuts. It's the fiscal sleight of hand to which they object.


The defeat leaves Democrats between a rock and a hard place. They still must merge the Baucus bill with the much more expensive HELP version. The combined bill probably can't be passed unless the Medicare reimbursement problem is fixed, but that problem can't be fixed without making it plain that Obamacare will balloon the deficit.


Making the deals and twisting the arms necessary to get this done might be beyond the abilities of even the greatest Senate leader, Lyndon Johnson. And Harry Reid is no LBJ.


Yuval Levin, who monitors health care issues for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, summed up the situation: "[The] vote showed [Senate Democrats] a leader unsure of himself, lacking an accurate vote count, and surprised by developments on the Senate floor."

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.

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© 2009, Jack Kelly

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