Morning Action: Democrats Insist on Minimum Wage Increase Despite Predicted Job Losses

MINIMUM WAGE. Democrats are pushing ahead with their attempt to raise the minimum wage despite CBO findings that doing so would result in significant job losses (sub. req’d):

The recent Congressional Budget Office report on increasing the minimum wage adds a new dimension to the political debate in Washington that could make it much more difficult for Democrats to push a wage increase through Congress.

The CBO conclusion that a $10.10 per hour minimum wage would boost salaries for 16.5 million people and lift 900,000 out of poverty while potentially costing the economy some 500,000 jobs gave Republicans a powerful figure to seize on. Democrats and advocates have challenged that last figure, saying it contradicts what most other economists have found, and are not slowing down their push to pass an increase.

Senate Democratic leaders say they plan to bring up a minimum wage increase bill (S 1737) written bySen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) sometime in the coming weeks. Democratic leaders in the House also promised to bring up an increase through a discharge petition.

FLOOD INSURANCE.  This week a flood insurance bill that would stall necessary reforms is up for a vote in the House:

The prospect of massive increases in flood-insurance premiums for Staten Island and Brooklyn homeowners will be forestalled if the U.S. House of Representatives approves reform legislation, Rep. Mike Grimm (R-NY) said Saturday.

“Today, the beacon of hope burns that much brighter for the countless Americans facing crippling uncertainly and financial ruin from skyrocketing flood-insurance premiums,” he said in a statement announcing that the draft version of his flood insurance reform package, H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, had been posted for public notice.

The bill, which he said has strong bipartisan support in the House, is scheduled for a vote later this week, Rep. Grimm said.

OBAMA. According to a new Gallup poll, Americans for the first time think President Obama is not respected on the world stage, with 53 percent saying leaders of other countries do not respect him and 41 percent saying they do:

For the first time, more Americans think President Barack Obama is not respected by other world leaders than believe he is. Americans’ opinions have shifted dramatically in the past year, after being relatively stable from 2010 to 2013.

The results are based on Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 6-9. Although opinions about a president’s perceived world standing often track with his job approval rating, a majority of Americans still thought world leaders respected Obama in 2010 and 2011, when his job approval was similar to what it is now. Thus, the recent decline may be more tied to specific international matters from the past year, such as the revelation the U.S. was listening in on foreign leaders’ phone calls, the situation in Syria, increased tensions with Russia, and an uneasy relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

VETERANS BILL.  This week the Senate will consider a veterans bill allegedly designed to increase their access to health care (sub. req’d):

A massive veterans bill the Senate will consider this week would greatly increase their access to health care, through more than two dozen new facilities across the country, greater rehabilitation for men and women who have returned from deployments with traumatic brain injuries and other services.

The omnibus legislation would be the largest package of veterans’ benefits passed in decades. Veterans groups are championing the multibillion-dollar bill not only because of its focus on expanded medical and dental care but also its array of provisions aimed at helping veterans obtain education and find jobs

The hang-up, as usual in Washington, lies in paying for the bill. The Congressional Budget Office is still working on a final score, but the bill is expected to cost about $21 billion over 10 years, according to Sanders’s office. Sanders and Democratic co-sponsors want to pay for it mostly by capping discretionary funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are known as Overseas Contingency Operations funds.

But House Republicans aren’t keen on that idea. In the past, they’ve opposed using OCO resources to pay for repealing Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate formula. The House has already passed the provision authorizing the leases for new medical centers as a stand-alone bill. But passing and affording the Senate package will be harder. No Senate Republicans have yet signed onto it.

HEALTH CARE. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) says the GOP is finishing work on an Obamacare alternative (sub. req’d):

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., reiterated on Friday that the House plans to bring up a bill to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.

In a memo to members laying out the House agenda for the remainder of the winter, Cantor noted that the replacement is being finalized, and said that in the meantime, Republicans will work to target parts of the law with which they disagree.

“As we continue to work to finalize our Obamacare replacement plan, we will also act to highlight and address the serious consequences of the law,” he said.

OBAMACARE. President Obama’s claim that 7 million got ‘access to health care for the first time’ because of his Medicaid expansion got four Pinocchios:

He seems to be falling into the same trap as other Democrats, and some reporters, by assuming that everyone in the Medicaid list is getting health insurance for the first time because of the Affordable Care Act. But that number is nowhere close to 7 million. It could be as low as 1.1 million (Avalere) or as high as 2.6 million (Gaba.) If one wanted to be generous, one could include people coming out of the woodwork, even though they would have been covered under the old law, but no one is really sure what that figure is.

In any case, no matter how you slice it, it does not add up to 7 million. It is dismaying that given all of the attention to this issue, the president apparently does not realize that the administration’s data are woefully inadequate for boastful assertions of this type.

SUSAN RICE.  National Security Adviser Susan Rice said she has no regrets about her involvement in disseminating inaccurate information about the Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2012:

In her first Sunday talk show appearance since her use of Benghazi “talking points” set off a political firestorm in 2012, National Security Adviser Susan Rice was asked point-blank whether she has any regrets about her involvement in informing the public of developments regarding the violence before, during and after the attacks on a U.S. post in Libya.

“No,” Rice bluntly told David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“This information I provided, which I explained to you, which was what we had at the moment, it could change,” Rice said. “I commented this was based on what we knew on that morning was provided to me and my colleagues and Congress, by the intelligence community, and that’s been well validated in many ways since.

“That information turned out to be, in some respects, not 100% correct. But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false,“ Rice said.

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