Revolving Door. The Washington Post broke the news this morning that Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary is leaving “Boehnerland” and heading to America’s Health Insurance Plans. AHIP represents thousands of health-care providers and has recently spoken out against efforts to impose budget neutrality on Obamacare’s “risk corridors” program, which is an insurer bailout. Not surprisingly, AHIP heaped praise on their new hire:
[His] experience and skill set will allow him to hit the ground running on day one. He’s an effective communicator who knows how to tackle complex policy issues and skillfully navigate an ever-changing health care and media environment. We are delighted to welcome him to our team.
2014. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney explains the political headwinds are behind a conservative, anti-cronyism agenda:
Republicans can make the 2014 election a referendum on corporate welfare, forcing Democrats to defend government handouts to well-connected big businesses. That is, if Republicans actually oppose government handouts to well-connected big businesses.
The Obama administration and congressional Democrats line up squarely with K Street on many pressing issues today. Congressional conservatives and activist groups are itching for a fight. And there are many potential battlefields.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has proposed to kill the insurer bailouts included in Obamacare. The 2010 health care law included a “risk corridor” provision, effectively taxing insurers for excess profits and subsidizing them if their profits were too low. For 2014, this could amount to bailouts to health insurers. Rubio’s bill would prevent that.
Propaganda. Liberals, including President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, are fawning over a new left-wing manifesto that is now #1 on Amazon. The Federalist’s David Harsanyi explains what it means and why we should care:
[Thomas] Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, argues … only a massive transfer of wealth could make our nation whole again. … But how does a book that evokes Marx and talks about tweaking the Soviet experiment find so much love from people who consider themselves rational, evidence-driven moderates? … Despite the extremism of his positions, Piketty has already become a folk hero to inequality alarmists everywhere. So if his popularity tells us anything, it’s that many liberal “though leaders” have taken a far more radical position on economic policy than we’re giving them credit for.
IRS. The perverse incentives of the federal government continue. The Associated Press reports the IRS rewarded employees who owe back taxes:
Putin. Despite verbal protestations from the West, including President Obama, Russia is moving ahead with its plan to take formally annex Crimea:
Russia’s lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a treaty Thursday to annex the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine, prompting tougher sanctions from the United States.
Russia responded with its own sanctions against a list of U.S. officials and lawmakers.
After Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had presented the treaty and urged lawmakers to accept the region as a part of the Russian Federation, the document was approved on a vote of 443 to 1.
ExIm Bank. Even so, there is no indication U.S. taxpayer-backed activity in Russia will slow down:
Even as Americans sour on Russia their financial activity in the country has soared through a little known credit export agency called the U.S. Export-Import (ExIm) Bank. According to the Bank’s 2013 annual report, it guaranteed more than $580 million in export funding during the last fiscal year — up 177-percent from fiscal year 2012.
Recess. After ramming through a 1,582-page, $1.111 trillion spending bill through Congress in less than four days, lawmakers fled Washington to begin yet another recess. That does not mean things will be quiet, though. As the Wall Street Journal reports, we could see big news next week on the House’s “piecemeal” amnesty push:
House Republican leaders are preparing for the first time to endorse legal status for many of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, a step that could jump-start the moribund immigration debate.
As early as next week, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and other GOP leaders will release a one-page set of principles outlining how they hope to overhaul the immigration system, people familiar with their plans say. It will stop short of offering the sort of path to citizenship endorsed by the Senate, but represents a major step toward what immigration advocates and Democrats have long sought.
Retirement. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) will retire at the end of the year due to health concerns.
Omnibus. Yesterday afternoon, just 44 hours after unveiling a massive 1,582-page omnibus spending bill, the House cleared the $1.111 trillion measure. With nearly every single Democrat voting yes, The Hill reports:
While most Democrats clearly preferred funding the government over risking a government shutdown, they also complained that the process needs to improve.
“This can be described very charitably as a mixed bag,” said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.). “This is a 1,500-page bill that nobody has actually read.”
Yet the bill won even more support than the two-year budget deal it was based on. Ninety-four House members had voted against the budget deal.
See how your Representative voted.
Obama Won. According to an analysis by National Journal, President Obama won the day: