>Berkley on SOTU Health Care proposal, Ensign votes to stall Minimum Wage bill

>Berkley critiques Bush’s Health Care plan:
If you aren’t on Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s (D-NV) mailing list you might have missed her commentary on the President’s health care proposals:

If you have health insurance through your job, look out! The president has laid out a plan that ‘robs Peter to pay Paul,’ as a leading business organization (the National Retail Federation) describes it. And labor organizations agree. This plan will increase taxes on millions of middle class families who have health insurance while only helping a relatively small number of lower income workers. It’s a complicated, piecemeal scheme that that refuses to recognize that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans and nearly 50 million other Americans will be uninsured this year. Worse yet, President is playing a shell game with the tax code that creates a lot of losers and a few winners at best. This is hardly the comprehensive solution we need—a solution born of health care professionals, insurers, and federal, state, and local governments working together to roll back medical cost inflation and provide cost-effective care emphasizing prevention and wellness.” The Berkley Bulletin is available on her website.

Ensign votes to stall Minimum Wage in Senate:
Senate conservatives are blocking the adoption of the Minimum Wage hike, apparently wanting to add more tax breaks for businesses attached to the bill. [BG] “Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the Senate majority leader, scheduled yesterday’s vote to demonstrate the Democrats’ lack of Republican support for a minimum-wage bill without tax cuts. Every Democrat present voted to end debate, and five moderate Republicans joined them.” […] It isn’t like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) isn’t trying to be accommodating: “Reid is backing an $8.3 billion tax package that would extend for five years a tax credit for employers who hire low-income or disadvantaged workers. It also would extend until 2010 tax rules that permit businesses to combine as much as $112,000 in expenses into one annual tax deduction. The cost of the proposal would be paid with revenue realized from a proposed cap of $1 million on executive compensation that can be tax deferred. The tax package also would end deductions for court settlements or punitive damages paid by companies that have been sued.” Among the Senators who don’t feel this is enough of a boon for corporate restaurant operations — Nevada junior Senator John Ensign (R-NV) [Roll Call 23]

The GOP members of the Senate also sought to attach amendments to “afford States the rights and flexibility to determine the minimum wage” [Roll Call 24] (rejected) Ensign voting in favor. Interesting how “state’s rights” are important except when they aren’t — as in the federalization of the National Guard? Ensign was one of only 28 Senators to support this amendment. Undaunted the GOP holdouts tried another amendment — to increase the Federal minimum wage “by an amount that is based on applicable State minimum wages.” [Roll Call 25] (also rejected) This one went down 18-76. Again, Senator Ensign found himself in a distinct minority.
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The next presidential election is TWO years away, but it doesn’t seem like it with the Horse Races already in progress. If you have $60 extra and happen to be in Minden, NV there’s an opportunity to meet with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson at the DCDCC’s “Turn Nevada Blue Dinner.” Contact Bud Orange or Cindy Trigg

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