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Obama’s budget: Something for everyone to hate

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“House Republicans passed a balanced budget that will help foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Unfortunately, the president’s budget never comes to balance. Every family has to balance its budget, Washington should as well.

“The American people know you can’t continue to spend money that you don’t have. The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years. Now think about this, you can’t continue to go on like this. That’s why we came forward with a plan that will balance the budget over the next 10 years. We believe strongly that it is time for Washington to deal with its spending problem.

“And while the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget. But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. Listen, why don’t we do what we can agree to do? Why don’t we find the common ground that we do have and move on that?

“The president got his tax hikes in January, we don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people. So I’m hopeful in the coming weeks we’ll have an opportunity, through the budget process, to come to some agreement.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“The President’s budget makes critical investments in our economy and in job creation. I’m particularly pleased to see the investments in mental health, HIV/AIDS, and education, including promise neighborhoods, and universal pre-K. Given my efforts to repeal the Tiahrt amendments, I’m also very pleased to see that this budget excludes pieces of that policy rider which inhibits law enforcement’s abilities to track illegal guns and prevent gun violence. Unfortunately, this budget also includes chained CPI, a benefit cut to Social Security which I strongly oppose.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee:

Orrin Hatch“What a disappointment this budget is. Not only is it two months late, but the President’s budget is a rehash of the same tax hikes, spending increases and deceptive budget gimmicks that have already been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike. What’s more, it barely makes a dent in our sky-high debt, while not doing enough to fundamentally reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Any reasonable person understands that our $17 trillion debt – which represents a burden of over $55,000 for every man, woman, and child in America – is a crisis that demands addressing.”

“Falsely claiming $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, as the President proposes, isn’t the kind of leadership the people of Utah and America deserve. Confronting our debt crisis with such an unbalanced set of massive tax increases, as the President does in his budget, will only result in less economic opportunity for middle-class families and small businesses, and more government spending from Washington. After last week’s dismal job numbers where the labor force dipped by a half-a-million workers and the labor force participation rate fell to the lowest since the early years of the Carter Administration, we need policies that grow our economy, the paychecks of the American people, and opportunities for our children and grandchildren – not grow our government as the President proposes in his budget.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“President Obama has put forth a budget proposal that makes investments to grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class while continuing to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.

“The President has made it clear that this proposal is in furtherance of his efforts to achieve compromise with Republicans and demonstrates that he is willing to make tough decisions to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a bold and balanced agreement that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and includes initiatives that spur economic growth by creating jobs.

“Now that the House and Senate have acted on their own budget proposals, it is time for Speaker Boehner to appoint budget conferees to avoid any further delay. The American people want their elected representatives in Washington to work together to tackle the difficult decisions facing our nation. We must lift the sequester and find common ground to grow our economy, put people to work, and build a strong, thriving middle class.”

More, after the jump…
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Reactions to the SCOTUS health care reform ruling

Your lawmakers are sounding off on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer “The Supreme Court’s ruling is a victory for America’s families, who deserve affordable health care.
“The decision is great news for the millions of Californians who have already seen the benefits of this law – including the six million who now have access to free preventive health services, 355,000 young adults who now have coverage on their parents’ health plans and 320,000 seniors who have received help in paying for their prescription drugs.
“Now Americans will have the certainty of knowing they won’t be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. Women won’t be charged a higher premium because of their gender. And families struggling with serious illnesses will not face lifetime limits on coverage.
“We will continue to fight Republican efforts to repeal these important health benefits while we work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

Orrin Hatch“The American people know that this law violates our deepest constitutional principles of limited government, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling today. President Obama’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is an unprecedented power grab by this White House that will increase health care costs, add to our skyrocketing national debt, and put Washington bureaucrats in between patients and their doctors. This ruling doesn’t change the fact that a majority of the people of Utah and across America want this law repealed. The American people will have the last word at the ballot box this November. But let me be absolutely clear, I will continue the fight to repeal this assault on individual liberty and limited government.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

Dianne Feinstein “This is an historic day. The Supreme Court today upheld the health care reform law passed by Congress in 2010, meaning Californians can be confident that access to affordable health insurance is finally a reality.

“I believe the health care reform law—including the individual mandate and the insurance exchanges designed to create large purchasing pools to make coverage more affordable—is critical to reducing the number of Americans who go without health insurance. The state exchanges will be up and running in 2014, and I am gratified they will have an opportunity to help Californians and drive down soaring health care costs.

“Because of today’s decision, California will receive an estimated $14.5 billion in federal funds designated to increase insurance coverage—including an estimated $5.5 billion annually to help low and middle-income residents purchase insurance in the exchanges and an estimated $9 billion a year to insure newly eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries. **

“Many positive benefits of the law have already gone into effect including provisions that allow children to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26, prohibit insurance companies from denying children health insurance based on a pre-existing condition and prohibit insurance companies from canceling coverage because of an illness such as breast cancer. Millions of Americans will continue to benefit from these insurance reforms.

“I realize that passage of health care reform was extremely controversial. But we cannot forget that insuring fellow Americans and driving down the exploding cost of health care spending in this country is a national emergency. Even with this favorable decision from the court, our work reforming the insurance market and expanding access to health care continues.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner “The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi “This decision is a victory for the American people. With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class, more coverage for families, and greater accountability for the insurance industry.

“The Affordable Care Act is already paying dividends for millions of Americans – with more to come. Children can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Seniors are paying less for prescription drugs. Students and young adults can stay on their parents’ plans. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.”

“In passing health reform, we made history for our nation and progress for the American people. We completed the unfinished business of our society and strengthened the character of our country. We ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for the middle class and for every American.”

More, after the jump…
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Senate GOP nixes Paycheck Fairness Act

Senate Republicans today ensured there would be no vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill pushed by the Obama Administration as a policy priority – and now a Democratic campaign rallying point.

The cloture vote was 52-47, short of the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring the bill to a straight up-or-down vote.

Census data showed women still made only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008. This bill would have let employees disclose salary information to co-workers despite workplace rules forbidding this, in order to expose wage disparities. Employers would have been required to show that any such disparities are based on genuine business requirements and related to specific details of the job that aren’t based on gender; it also would’ve prohibited retaliation against those who raise wage-parity issues, provided resources to help women develop negotiating skills, and bring more research into lingering causes of male-female wage disparities.

From President Barack Obama:

“This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work. My Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right for equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and every American gets a fair shot to succeed.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Senate Republicans let down the women of America – and their families – by refusing to stand up for the basic principle of equal pay for equal work. But just as we didn’t quit when Republicans tried to defeat the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, we are not going to stop fighting until the Paycheck Fairness Act becomes the law of the land.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“It’s 2012 but Republicans are stuck in the past; by blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act from receiving the simple vote it deserves, Senate Republicans have obstructed progress and prosperity for American families. They’ve joined House Republicans, who just last week voted unanimously against bringing the Paycheck Fairness Act to the floor and in doing so stood against fundamental fairness for America’s working women and families struggling to get by.

“Equal pay for equal work should be a pillar of our American recovery. In this time of great economic challenge, the 77 cents that women make for every dollar men make adds up to a real impact on working families.

“When we strengthen economic security for America’s women, we strengthen economic security for America’s families. That is why Democrats will continue to work on behalf of the opportunity for all Americans to participate equally in the prosperity of our country.”

Republicans say it was a political ploy.

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“It doesn’t seem to matter to Senate Democrats that federal law already prevents gender-based pay discrimination. Nothing seems to get in the way of Democrats’ desire to push a message-tested bill that would be a boondoggle to trial lawyers with the cost borne by small businesses and job creators who would face mountains of litigation. Given how bad this bill is, I might almost say I’m glad this is just a politically-motivated show vote. But the reality is that the American people need relief from the Obama economy, not more votes designed for the President’s political base. With our economy as weak as it is, it’s time for the President and his Capitol Hill allies to stop the games and start working to stop the largest tax hike in American history that will hit every tax-paying American on January 1st.”

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Obama 2012 defends, touts health care reform

As the Affordable Care Act‘s second anniversary looms this week, the war of words over its worth is becoming deafening. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, in that both sides truly seem to believe they have a winning issue here.

Here in Oakland, Democratic activist Christine Pelosi of San Francisco – daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson rallied about 30 volunteers today at the campaign headquarters on Telegraph Avenue, briefing them on the reform law’s effects to prepare them for an afternoon of phone-banking.

Christine Pelosi @ OFA HQ 3-19-12Just as Medicare and Social Security were “an intergenerational compact,” so too is health care reform “a societal compact” from a president who believes “health care is a right, not a privilege,” Pelosi said.

By forcing insurers to spend most of their premiums revenue on health care, not administration; by requiring them to insure people with pre-existing conditions; by reducing prescription costs for seniors; and by advancing patients’ rights, including the right to wellness visits, the law has improved the lives of millions of Americans, she said.

As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the question of its constitutionality and as Republicans run on platforms of repeal, “our response has to be, ‘we’re not going back,’” Pelosi told the volunteers. “And each of you is taking personal responsibility to make sure that we’re going forward.”

Carson noted about 356,000 young adults in California – out of 2.5 million nationwide – have benefitted from the reform law by being allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Almost an equal number of Californians on Medicare got a $250 rebate in 2010 to help cover the cost of their prescriptions when they hit the “donut hole” in their coverage, and almost 320,000 got a 50 percent discount in 2011 on their covered, brand-name prescriptions when they hit the donut hole; the law will close the hole by 2020.

Carson also said 12 million Californians no longer need worry about lifetime limits on their coverage; almost 3 million Californians on Medicare received free preventative services (such as mammograms and colonoscopies) or a free wellness visit with their doctor last year; and almost 6.2 million Californians with private insurance gained preventative service coverage with no cost-sharing.

He told the campaign volunteers that this is what they must convey to the people they call, in order to ensure they’re not swayed by “those who are critical, those who are fearful, those who are financed by the insurance companies.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Carly Fiorina to help run GOP’s 2012 Senate push

Will the Demon Sheep campaign method be writ large upon next year’s Senate elections? 2010 Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina has become a vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chairman U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced this morning.

Fiorina 6-17-10 in Sacramento (AP Photo)The NRSC’s news release said Fiorina, serving with Cornyn and NRSC Vice Chairman U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, “will amplify Senate Republicans’ focus on healing America’s troubled economy, and assist with the NRSC’s crucial fundraising efforts in support of a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.”

“I’m pleased to welcome my friend Carly Fiorina to the NRSC team, where her many business and civic achievements will make her an invaluable leader and fundraiser during this critical election cycle,” Cornyn, R-Texas, said in the release. “I look forward to working with Carly to elect strong Republican Senators who will finally put a stop to President Obama’s failed tax-and-spend agenda, and instead promote the economic growth and job creation Americans so badly need.”

Fiorina said the Senate sets the nation’s legislative agenda and she’s proud to work with the NRSC to restore a GOP majority next year. “Republicans in the Senate will provide job creators the opportunities and environment they need to grow our economy, decentralize power out of Washington, and restore fiscal accountability.”

The former HP chairwoman and CEO first got her feet wet in politics supporting 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. She defeated former congressman Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, in the June 2010 GOP primary, but lost in November to incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points.

UPDATE @ 2:48 P.M.: “Carly Fiorina laid off thousands and outsourced good American jobs overseas, but that didn’t stop national Republicans from investing millions in her campaign last year, which she lost by double digits, or hiring her today,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Press Secretary Shripal Shah said today. “Apparently, Republicans are not only protecting tax breaks for millionaires, they’re also finding them jobs.”

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War of words over new GOP budget plan

The Republican budget plan rolled out yesterday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, D-Wisc., has brought a flood of rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, particularly where Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are concerned.

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“The status quo is unsustainable. Our over $14 trillion debt is a threat to the future of our nation. Spending has been out-of-control for far too long. Our entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – look more like an empty promise that our children and grandchildren will pay for, but will never see.

“In February, we saw the White House’s response: a budget that taxes, borrows, and spends too much – demonstrating a complete failure of leadership to confront our spending-fueled debt crisis. In contrast, Paul Ryan has put serious ideas on the table to reform Medicare and Medicaid, streamline our tax code, cut spending, and confront our debt. He rightly includes a proposal to kick Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off the government dole, fully repeal the budget-busting $2.6 trillion health law, and extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief permanently, while reducing our corporate tax rate.

“The White House and its Capitol Hill allies need to demonstrate real leadership and join Republicans in working to solve the tremendous fiscal challenges facing our nation. Unfortunately, what we are seeing from the other side is a defense of an unsustainable status quo and political attacks on Republican ideas. That’s not the kind of leadership the American people are asking for.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, we need to consider all ideas to fix our broken entitlements, cut spending and reform the overly-burdensome tax code. We know that the Medicaid expansion in the $2.6 trillion health law threatens to bankrupt both states and the federal government. We know that cutting over a half-trillion dollars from a nearly bankrupt Medicare system to create new entitlements and expand existing ones is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. We know that Social Security will not exist in the future if we fail to reform it now. We know our tax code is too complex, threatens our ability to compete in the world, and needs to be overhauled.”

Democrats contend future Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries are now being asked to suffer because Republicans have forced the extension of tax cuts for millionaires and because of the nation’s profligate war spending over the past decade.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Ryan’s plan “would give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, all paid for by destroying Medicare for our seniors and denying health care to our most vulnerable children.”

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, said Republicans have “reneged on their commitment to Medicare. They don’t believe that senior citizens and people with disabilities have a right to guaranteed health benefits. Instead, they will turn the health of seniors and people with disabilities over to private insurers. Say goodbye to secure health care when you need it most. That’s what this budget means to anyone in America who hopes to grow old.”

Stark’s office today cited an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that says a typical Medicare beneficiary would spend more for health care under Ryan’s plan because private plans would cost more than traditional Medicare and the government’s contribution would grow more slowly than health care costs.

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said:

“The American people understand we can’t continue spending money we don’t have, especially when doing so is making it harder to create jobs and get our economy back on track. The Administration has put forward a budget for next year that raises taxes by $1.5 trillion and is silent on our debt crisis, a surefire recipe for destroying jobs. Our budget will help spur job creation today, stop spending money we don’t have, and lift the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children’s future. Our budget also recognizes Americans are concerned not just about how much government spends, but how government spends it, and keeps our pledge to set strict budget caps that limit federal spending on annual basis. Most importantly, this budget shows families and small businesses that we’re serious about dealing with America’s spending illness so we can put our country on a path to prosperity.

“Chairman Ryan and the members of the Budget Committee have done an excellent job putting together a budget worthy of the American people. I hope every American concerned about our country’s future will take a look at it.”

More from your local lawmakers, after the jump…
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