Saturday, December 17, 2011

Budget Deal - Kicking the Can Down the Road

The new budget deal has succeeded; if by success you mean putting off any important decisions until later. The Federal government will be funded through the next fiscal year (until next Sept, 30). The deal has the following important terms:

The payroll tax holiday (money not collected for social security) will continue until the next fight,  extended unemployment benefits are extended, and the cuts to Drs. for medicare work were put off. 
The deal, which the House is expected to vote on early next week, would extend for two months the current cut in the Social Security payroll tax for wage earners to 4.2%, from 6.2%. It also would continue for that time a program that provides up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. And it would adjust the Medicare payment formula so doctors participating in the health-care program for the elderly won't see a steep cut in payments.
The congress has required the executive branch to decide on the Keystone pipeline in 60 days.  Does anyone want to make a side wager as to the outcome of this?
Senate Republicans did what they could late Friday to force Obama's hand on the Keystone XL pipeline project. They agreed to a tentative deal that would only extend a payroll tax cut and extra unemployment insurance for two months if a decision on the pipeline is made in the same time period. Obama had wanted to wait until 2013.
The enforcement of the the ban on 100 watt incandescent lamps is zeroed out until Sept. 30. The action does not repeal the ban, only puts off the date of enforcement. Mickey Kaus is skeptical that it will go into force then
Maybe Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats would just as soon that Congress put off the de facto ban on cheap, familiar incandescent bulbs until after the election. If the ban can drive the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker into the Tea Party, who knows how many other voters it will annnoy. This would explain the strange lack of strong Dem opposition to a GOP rider that defunds the incandescent ban until Sept. 30.
That gives us more time to stock up!

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