This week, Washington descends into its annual budget brawl. House Republicans unveiled their plan on Tuesday, with Senate Republicans to follow Wednesday. Their hope is to pass a common budget resolution through both bodies by mid-April. Their incentive is that if — and that is a big if — Republicans in the House and Senate can agree, they can use the process known as “reconciliation” to pass various right-wing passions by majority vote, no filibuster allowed. The House budget plan, for example, calls for repealing Obamacare, partial privatization of Medicare, turning Medicaid and food stamps into block grants for the states, and tax reforms that lower rates and eliminate any taxation on profits reported abroad, turning the rest of the world into a tax haven for multinationals. The president can veto the appropriations bill containing these items, setting up another government shutdown melodrama. This is not the way to run a railroad, much less a government.
Congress is nearing a vote on arguably the biggest change to private pension law in decades.
The proposed reforms would grant sweeping new authority to the trustees of some “deeply troubled” multi-employer pension plans to slash benefits promised to current retirees—something that’s illegal under existing law. A cornerstone of some collective bargaining agreements, multi-employer plans cover more than 10 million workers, mostly in construction but also in the transportation, manufacturing, retail and service sectors.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is pushing its nearly 70 Democrats to oppose a sweeping funding bill on Thursday because it rolls back a key aspect of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.