Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Last Ditch

There’s a good chance that by the time this gets posted it may be out of date, but here’s how the folks at Politico (yeah, I know) think the deal will go.

Senate leaders are closing in on a deal to reopen the government and extend the U.S. debt ceiling until next year, marking a major breakthrough in an impasse that has paralyzed Washington and struck fears across the globe.

In a furious round of last-ditch negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were discussing a proposal to reopen the government until Jan. 15 and extend the national debt limit until Feb. 7. The plan under consideration would also require larger bicameral budget negotiations to conclude by Dec. 13.

There was still a sticking point Monday evening over whether to allow the Treasury Department to use “extraordinary measures” to go beyond the new Feb. 7 debt limit deadline as the White House and Reid are seeking, according to sources familiar with the matter. Republicans are opposed to that idea, but several Democratic sources insisted it would be included in the final package.

Indeed, there were growing expectations that a deal was imminent; Senate Republicans and Democrats are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the proposal in separate closed-door caucus meetings.

The prospects for the emerging Senate deal in the GOP-led House are far from certain. And there’s a risk that major fiscal decisions are again being punted to a later time.

Republicans would win a provision to force Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, to certify that individuals receiving Obamacare subsidies meet the required income levels. The department’s inspector general would later have to conduct an audit on the matter.

Democrats would win a labor union priority to delay for one year an Obamacare reinsurance tax, which was supposed to be levied against most insurance plans to help spread the risk for insurers who take on the sickest patients next year. Delaying the fee — $63 per person covered by an insurance plan per year — could amount to a significant boon to unions. The GOP push to kill Obamacare’s medical device tax now appears to be off the table, sources said.

Like the Tigers in the ninth inning lately, it could all blow up in our faces, but at least it puts the default off for a little while, and the whole hugga-mugga about Obamacare is nowhere to be seen.

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