The Week Ahead

By January 22, 2007General

The Dems’ “100 Hours” march to the sea is finally over, with a few low points along the way. Among these was a bill — H.R. 4 — that would limit pharmaceutical options for seniors in Medicare Part D and another — H.R. 6 — that would only make us more dependent on foreign energy. Still, they poll-tested well. Let’s hope cooler heads in the Senate prevail on both of these bills.

This week is State of the Union (SOTU) week in Washington as the President makes his way down to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discharge his Constitutional duty. Word is that he will talk about Iraq (of course) but spend the bulk of his time on domestic issues, including energy and health care. We’re attending a briefing tomorrow on the topic, will let you know what we find out.

On health care, we got a bit of a preview over the weekend, as the President made it the focus of his weekly radio address. According to this White House Fact Sheet, the President will propose a “standard deduction for health insurance”, similar to the standard deduction for dependents. Under the President’s proposal, says the White House, “families with health insurance will not pay income or payroll taxes on the first $15,000 in compensation and singles will not pay income or payroll taxes on the first $7,500. At the same time, health insurance would be considered taxable income.” Not sure how all of this will sort out. Here’s a front page story from Sunday’s New York Times that quotes NAM alum Neil Trautwein, sounding not all that enthusiastic about the plan.

On Thursday and Friday, the House won’t be in session while the GOP has its annual retreat — in Cambridge, Maryland, just outside DC. The Dems have theirs February 3 in Williamsburg, and the President will be attending.

On the political front, in case you were not near a TV, radio or telegraph over the weekend, Hillary’s in, Sam Brownback’s in and Bill Richardson’s in. If you’re thinking of getting in, there’s still time, not to worry. Newt says he might wait ’til Labor Day to see how things shake out.

Here’s a link to the Dems’ “Daily Whip Line” that’ll keep you up to date on their view of the calendar and here’s a link to the GOP Whip site that’ll do the same.

UPDATE (By Carter Wood, 10:24 a.m.):Blogging economist Arnold Kling gives Bush’s health-care proposals an A+. Good discussion follows in the comments. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.)