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United States Capitol dome at midday, east side.  July 28, 2011.  Photo by Mark Noel (
At 12:30 this morning, congressional negotiators announced they'd finally reached a deal on must-pass legislation set to expire in days—the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and averting a steep cut to payments to Medicare providers.

The bill extends unemployment benefits through the end of 2012, but by the end of the year, it will reduce the number of weeks of unemployment eligibility to 63 weeks in states with moderate jobless rates and 73 weeks for those with the highest unemployment. Republican efforts to force beneficiaries into high school degree equivalency programs were turned back, though they did win a provision to bar people receiving welfare from using their electronic benefits cards to get cash from ATMs in liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.

Despite the hissy fits of many in the GOP caucus House Speaker Boehner's capitulation on extending the payroll tax cut with no budget offset is the cornerstone of the deal. Nonetheless, the Democrats did not prevail on their preferred pay-fors, which was using the unspent Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funds from troop withdrawals Iraq and Afghanistan, money which the CBO counts as part of the budget, as the offset. Republicans balked, and Democrats gave in.

The pay-fors now include adjustments to the federal retiree pensions formula, requiring new hires to pay more into their pension plans, shielding current federal workers from the hike. They'll raise $15 billion from a spectrum auction of wireless bandwidth. The plan also includes $5 billion from a new health care fund created by the Affordable Care Act focused on prevention, and additional reimbursement cuts to some Medicare and Medicaid providers. Democrats stress that they "stopped Republicans efforts to cut benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and to undermine health coverage for millions of Americans.”

The votes on the bill are expected tomorrow, before Congress recesses for a week for Presidents' day. Because it is a conference report, it can't be amended.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:04 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:04:42 AM PST

  •  Meh. Typical political compromise: (5+ / 0-)

    Democrats get to brag on stuff, Republicans get to brag on stuff.

    Meanwhile workers get screwed again.

    Democrats will say "73 is better than 59".  

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:08:50 AM PST

    •  A typical "compromise" that's a Democratic cave (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon, chipmo, Losty

      The Republicans got everything they wanted, and it's an atrocity. Specifically, they're paying for the doc fix by trashing the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was a signature accomplishment of the PPACA. Instead of preventing obesity and diabetes and other preventable diseases, we're going to use that money to pay for medical care -- medical care we would not have to pay for if we prevented those diseases in the first place.

      This isn't a win, it's one more total, craven surrender. An atrocity.

  •  How many people will lose their benefits? And how (0+ / 0-)

    many will lose them right before the election?

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:09:23 AM PST

    •  How many Medicare and Medicaid (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon, chipmo

      Recipients will lose their benefits because providers are getting a reimbursement cut and will no longer be willing to provide care?
      Once again the Democrats are allowing the Republicans to take from the poor so they can say that they supported the poor.

  •  Tell me more about this 5 billion from the ACA (0+ / 0-)

    for prevention.  Is this bad?

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:09:54 AM PST

  •  Does the "73" weeks of unemployment go into (0+ / 0-)

    effect for newly unemployed, or does it affect those currently in the system?

    Hopefully, the economy will improve enough that, by the time this change is effective, there won't be that many folks needing 99 vs 73.

    And maybe we'll all get flying cars.  I dunno.

    Liberals: Taking crap for being right since before you were born. - Driftglass (and the amazing Professional Left Podcast at

    by briefer on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:14:58 AM PST

  •  You mean we dont have to pee in a cup? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boredwitnuts, One Opinion

    or is it just states that like their pee in a cup??

    •  From what I understand... (0+ / 0-)

      Nothing has changed from original law.  If you've been fired due to failing a drug test for your company, you don't get UI anyways.  Also, if you are in a job sector that demands drug testing, you will still be tested for UI.

  •  I always find it ironic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, PAbluestater

    that these battles over how to pay for a safety net program always precede the next Congressional vacation.

    Why is it the most that working Americans get off is one day and Congress gets a week?  And there are plenty of Americans who don't even get that federal holiday.

    Vi er alle norske " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:21:49 AM PST

  •  The 1% (4+ / 0-)

    win again.

     Over time there will be nothing left for us, all part of the neo-liberal playbook.

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:22:15 AM PST

  •  Pretty good all things considered. (5+ / 0-)

    The president will get what he wants.

    I think what this does show is that both parties in Congress realize the President is about to spend a ton of time and money bashing Congress over the Summer, so they want to  try and look good this year.

    •  I guess the wins need to be perfect (0+ / 0-)

      otherwise it's a cave-in.

    •  Not all...but most (0+ / 0-)

      Contrary to those who seem to perceive this as another Democratic cave, it seems to me that the Republicans gave up more than Democrats for a change.

      I don't like some of the features of this compromise (73 weeks instead of 99 weeks, taking money from the prevention fund of the ACA, hitting federal workers), but it could have been far, far worse -- the Republicans caved on their stupid drug testing proposals, the GED requirement for unemployment, and spending cuts to pay for middle class tax cuts.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:28:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Breaking Faux News Poll: Obama leads in swingers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Why is drug testing in this? (0+ / 0-)

    "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

    by justmy2 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:23:27 AM PST

    •  I don't believe anything has changed (0+ / 0-)

      from what's already on the books.  

      •  not what I have read (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        One Opinion
        A GOP aide said the deal would overturn a federal law that prevents states from screening and then drug testing people who apply for unemployment insurance. States would be permitted to screen claimants who lost their jobs because they failed or refused a drug test and people seeking new jobs that generally require drug tests. According to a 2006 survey cited by Republicans, 84 percent of employers required new hires to pass a drug test. Federal law currently does not allow states to deny benefits for reasons other than misconduct, fraud or disqualifying earnings.

        "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

        by justmy2 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:40:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Typical Republican Pay-Fors (0+ / 0-)

    at the expense of civil servants and preventive medicine, as well as sale of government assets to corporations. But it will be some consolation if Boehner has to depend on Democratic votes to get this passed in the House.

  •  And as per Lindsee poo that's a wrap until Elect. (0+ / 0-)

    Congress set for do-nothing year

    Come January, Americans will face the prospect of seeing their taxes rise substantially. Jobless benefits could expire. And defense programs will be on the chopping block, hitting communities from coast to coast.

    So what are the chances Congress will deal with these issues of profound consequence between now and November?

    “Zero,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. “If you’re looking for a positive spin on this, I don’t have one to give you.”

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:30:07 AM PST

  •  Even our "victories" feel like defeats, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    doesn't it seem? This may not be the worst deal to come down the block, but we're still not doing this whole "politics" thing right if we have to compromise in giving the 99% what they want, in full view of an energized public and a strangely--that is, properly--attuned media. This simply smacks of "getting things done", as opposed to "getting things done right." And yes, I realize that the Republican House is unlikely to give us anything done right, but that's what elections are for, in part--to punish morons who vote the wrong way on stuff. I would sacrifice a year of higher taxes--and believe me, I can scarcely afford it, ok?--to ensure a hold in the Senate and regaining the House by a wide margin. Wouldn't you? Think of it as a campaign donation, if you will . . .

  •  This is a big win for the American people, Obama, (7+ / 0-)

    Democrats, and progressives.  But judging from the the naysayers' comments upstream, some "progressives" can't celebrate a victory even when it hits them in the face.

    Win: payroll tax cut passed
    Win: unemployment benefits extended
    Win: seniors are not cast aside by doctors
    Win: current federal employees see no increase in their pension contributions
    Win: person's receiving unemployment insurance do not have to be drug tested
    Win: no Keystone BS in this extension
    Win: $150bn stimulus to the economy
    Win: Thanks in part to this stimulus, economic growth continues and unemployment rate continues to drop
    Win: Republicans cave in on saying no to every Obama proposals

    If they naysayers want a better deal,  they need to work their off to elect more progressive Democrats to the House, Senate, and state legislative offices.


    The Republican Party = The American Taliban.

    by pwr2thepeople on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:42:41 AM PST

    •  My biggest complaints are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the fact that there is any cap on unemployment benefits.  I don't need a 1%'er telling me how long I have to find a new job.  Also, why should federal employees contribute anything to their pension?  Another scam to insure the 1% don't pay their fair share.

  •  why not the Millionaire Tax? (0+ / 0-)

    shouldn't Dems at least forced the Repugs to vote against that on record Now ---- before the Dems accepted the pain to UI claimants and Fed workers, and Health Care.

    Dems should have made this a Very Public PR FIGHT -- before caving in to that crap.

    "I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need." - Ellen DeGeneres

    by PAbluestater on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:37:22 AM PST

  •  Another pass for the WH (0+ / 0-)

    Where is the outrage over cutting 26 weeks of unemployment benefits? That's $7,800 at $300 a week.

    What would happen if you took $7,800 off a rich man? Try jail and 5 to 10.

    When working people down on their luck are robbed by Baucus and the WH, we praise it as a good deal.

  •  Repugs are insane (0+ / 0-)

    to think that someone who wants to by beer or wine will not do this because they can't use the card at a liquor store. They will simply stop at a nearby bank and get the money there. It's easy, there is one on every fucking corner.

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