Thursday: House Finalizing Health Care Deal; Early Election Results From Iraq
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is meeting with fellow Democrats Thursday morning to outline key elements of a final health care reform package.
Democrats are still awaiting a final cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, but following a closed-door meeting Wednesday night with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Pelosi told reporters, “We’re pretty close actually.”
Politco reports that “congressional sources expect it to include more generous subsidies than in the Senate bill, an expanded Medicare payroll tax on wealthier families, more aid to states to cover Medicaid expansion and a provision that would put off implementation of the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost plans until 2018, as President Barack Obama has sought.”
The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will meet with the president Thursday morning. Hispanic lawmakers are preparing to tell President Obama that they may vote “no” on the health care deal unless changes are made to the way legislation treats immigrants, the Hill reports.
Also on Capitol Hill, the House voted Wednesday to ban corporate earmarks. The move will keep lawmakers from awarding taxpayer dollars for pet projects back home to for-profit corporations that often time are also large campaign donors.
Early Election Results From Iraq
Preliminary election results are beginning to trickle out of Iraq. Early figures show Prime Minister Nouri-al-Maliki winning in two Shiite provinces in southern Iraq, the Associated Press is reporting. We’ll have more on this as results continue to come out throughout the day.
Biden Calls for Middle East Peace Talks
Speaking to a crowd in Tel Aviv, Biden repeated his criticism of the settlement, which besides causing some embarrassment for the vice president, has also threatened to undermine the renewed peace push. “The most important thing is for these talks to go forward and go forward promptly and go forward in good faith,” Biden said.
Greek Workers Strike
Thousands of workers across Greece went on strike Thursday to protest some $6.5 billion in austerity measures Athens is proposing to solve the nation’s debt crisis. Greece’s partners in the European Union, along with the financial markets, have applauded Athens’ effort to rein in debt. However, public support for the cuts in Greece has plunged to around 40 percent.
Panel Faults GMAC Bailout
A Congressional watchdog group has found that the government’s decision to bailout the auto financing giant GMAC Inc. could ultimately cost taxpayers $6.3 billion. The report from the Congressional Oversight Panel found that GMAC faced fewer conditions for its government rescue than did bailed-out automakers. In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Elizabeth Warren, the panel’s chair, said the Treasury Department “missed many opportunities to improve accountability and protect taxpayer money.”