The Senate Finance Committee is set to resume its consideration of the health care plan outlined by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) today. Those in the mainstream media and Senator Baucus himself have tried to market this supposedly "new" plan as a more moderate, bi-partisan compromise, however, no other members of the negotiating "Gang of Six," or any other U.S. Senator for that matter, was willing to stand beside Sen. Baucus when he unveiled his plan last week. Rasmussen reported yesterday that 56% of Americans now oppose ObamaCare. Even worse, the increasing list of defeated amendments in the Senate Finance committee is revealing the true intentions of the Baucus plan to be just as radical as H.R. 3200. Here are a few things you should know about the Baucus bill and what is developing in the Senate:
The IRS will enforce the individual mandate. Like H.R. 3200, the Baucus bill requires every American (with the exception of a few groups, including illegal aliens and convicted felons) to purchase health insurance that complies with new federal standards by 2013. Those who fail to pay the penalty-which could be up to $1,900 for each individual-for not having health insurance will face legal action from the IRS and will be subject to the same financial penalties as those who evade paying their federal income taxes. Thanks to aggressive questioning by Sen. Ensign (R-NV) last week to inquire how these provisions would be enforced, the Joint Committee on Taxation confirmed via handwritten letter that the IRS would take you to court and undertake normal collection proceedings.The Committee made sure to bring Section 7203of the U.S. tax code to Sen. Ensign's attention:
"If there is a willful failure to file, pay, or maintain appropriate records and the like [...] the taxpayer may be charged with a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to $25,000 and not more than one year in jail. Felony tax evasion provides for restitution and a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to five years in jail."
The public option is NOT off the table. This week, Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Rockefeller (D-WV) plan to offer amendments to replace the bill's "nonprofit health insurance cooperatives" with a public option. Currently, the Baucus bill provides for so-called "co-ops," a term which resulted from fierce grassroots opposition, as well as opposition from every Republican Senator and a handful of moderate Democrat Senators, to a purely government-run option.
Explicitly provides for abortion funding. Currently, the Baucus plan would subsidize plans that cover all elective abortions. This goes far beyond that status quo of current law.Sen. Hatch is expected to offer an amendment to exclude government-subsidized abortion funding and protect conscience rights for health care workers. If you recall, the House Democrats approved the Lois Capps (D-CA) amendment in committee a few weeks ago to officially insert abortion into H.R. 3200. Calls are needed to pressure the moderate Democrats and liberal Republican on the committee in preparation for the Hatch amendment vote on Tuesday: Bingaman (D-MN), Carper (D-DE), Conrad (D-ND), Lincoln (D-AR), Nelson (D-FL), Snowe (R-ME).
List of defeated amendments reveal the true nature of Baucus' plan. 564 amendments were filed in committee, but only a fraction will be offered and receive a vote. Among the defeated amendments thus far was Senator Jim Bunning's (R-KY) amendment to require that final legislative language and a final CBO (Congressional Budget Office) cost analysis be made publicly available on the committee's website for at least 72 hours prior to a final vote. The Bunning transparency amendment was defeated by a vote of 11 to 12, with all Republicans plus Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) voting in favor-all other Democrats voted NO.
This bill is moving through committee quickly, so your calls are needed to slow it down! Each day, we are learning that it is increasingly likely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will maneuver to bypass the traditional 60 vote threshold needed to proceed with this bill in order to pass ObamaCare with a simple majority (51 votes) via the budget reconciliation process. Don't let Congress think the American people have cooled down the opposition. The time to light up the Capitol switchboard is now!
In addition to your own Senators, please call the Senators who sit on the Senate Finance Committee and tell them that the Baucus bill is just as radical and dangerous as H.R. 3200 and that you expect them to oppose it! Also, please be sure to urge support for the Hatch amendment while you are making your calls!