Morning Action: Mark Udall Called Out for Trying to Change Obamacare Cancellation Numbers

OBAMACARE.  Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has been called out for attempting to change Obamacare cancellation numbers:

Senator Mark Udall attempted to alter the number of Coloradans who received notification that their health insurance policies were being cancelled due to Obamacare.

The story was originally reported by Todd Shepherd at Complete Colorado and later by Colorado Peak Politics.

According to reports, Udall’s office tried to change the number of cancelled policies. The number was produced by the Colorado Division of Insurance. Udall’s office subsequently lobbied the agency to amend their definition of what qualified as a cancellation.

WORKFORCE.  Unemployment has fallen to 6.7 percent because of people leaving the workforce (sub. req’d):

U.S. job growth slowed sharply in December, closing out the year on a surprisingly weak note and potentially complicating the Federal Reserve’s plan for winding down its bond-buying program.

U.S. payrolls rose by 74,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday. That was a sharp dip from numbers of over 200,000 in the prior two months and the lowest monthly gain in three years.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 7%, though the decline was largely the result of people leaving the workforce.

COLLEGE COSTS.  Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% has introduced a plan to lower college costs and increase innovation:

Senator Mike Lee wants to boost educational opportunities for low-income and middle-class Americans by allowing colleges to be accredited at the state level.

Today, the Utah Republican introduced a bill that would permit colleges to get accreditation at the state, rather than regional or federal, level and still be eligible to receive federal education funds.

OMNIBUS.  Appropriators working on the omnibus spending bill say that a short-term stopgap is becoming more likely  (sub. req’d):

Appropriators and their staffs were racing Thursday to finalize a $1.012 trillion omnibus amid growing signs they may need another continuing resolution to extend government operations once an existing funding measure expires in less than a week.

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., told reporters a “short-term” continuing resolution would likely be necessary to give lawmakers time to complete work on a sprawling package to fund the government through the final months of fiscal 2014.

Sources familiar with the negotiations say a stopgap bill may only last until last for two or three days, extending the deadline for an omnibus perhaps through Friday, Jan. 17.

The Heritage Foundation explains what the omnibus is here:


UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.  Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% is seeking a one-year extension of unemployment insurance in exchange for some cuts in mandatory spending (sub. req’d):

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada unveiled on Thursday a framework for extending unemployment benefits until November, in part by extending for a year through fiscal 2024 automatic spending cuts on some mandatory spending such as Medicare funding for health care providers.

Reid and other senior Democrats declined to discuss details of the deal. But Democratic aides said the talks included a possible extension of the sequester, a slice of mandatory spending that includes Medicare reimbursements for health care providers.

The new budget deal (H J Res 59) extended automatic spending cuts on such mandatory spending for two additional years through fiscal 2023. A Senate Democratic aide said the one year extension of sequester would save roughly $18 billion in fiscal 2024.

We’ve noted here and here why an unemployment benefits extension would actually prolong unemployment for many unemployed individuals.

TAXES.  Business groups’ hopes for a tax overhaul in 2014 is fading (sub. req’d):

Prospects for a corporate tax overhaul, once a promising area for common ground between the two parties, are fading fast barely more than a week into 2014.

Business groups that have supported the idea of restructuring the tax code to simplify the taxation of companies while lowering the basic corporate rate say an overhaul of individual tax rates would have to be part of the package, presenting an all but insurmountable challenge to a deeply divided Congress during an election year.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY.  A powerful labor leader has vowed to block forthcoming trade promotion authority legislation:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the latest version of trade promotion authority legislation introduced in Congress on Wednesday “out of date, poorly conceived, and bad for American workers.” He said the labor federation would “actively work to block its passage.”

“It is past time for the United States to get off the corporate hamster wheel on trade. This legislation renews the undemocratic ‘trade promotion’ process and completely fails to provide the transparency, accountability, and oversight necessary for the far-reaching trade and investment agreements that the administration is negotiating, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Trumka said.


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