Congress Returns from Thanksgiving with a Full Plate

Congress returns from Thansgiving with Full PlateWith only 12% of the U.S. approving of their job performance1, Congress returns this week to try and salvage their do-nothing reputation by completing multiple unresolved issues before the end of the year. From unemployment to payroll deductions, Congress is about to make some decisions that will affect almost every American.

How will these issues impact your business?

Some of the items to be decided include:

  • Extension of the payroll tax break enacted last year that reduces an employee’s share of the Social Security payroll tax from to 6.2% to 4.2% and is estimated to give an average U.S. family between $1,000 and $1,500 a year;
  • Extension of unemployment benefits for 2.2 million long-term unemployed Americans. Without the extension, beginning in February 2012 unemployed workers would only be eligible for benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks instead of the 99 weeks currently offered.
  • The “Doc-fix.” Since Medicare was created in 1965 a struggle has ensued to decide how much to pay doctors for Medicare services. Typically, this has been decided by tying Medicare spending to U.S. economic growth. But, with the U.S. economy on the ropes combining with soaring healthcare costs this entitlement has created a multi-billion shortfall. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will take $300 billion to bring Medicare into balance. The American Medical Association estimates Medicare providers would see a 27 percent reduction in pay if Congress does not pass a doc fix by December 31.
  • The federal government continues operations under a second continuing resolution (CR) funding each agency at the previous FY 2011 level until December 16. Congress has only adopted three of the twelve annual spending bills namely, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations. Congress seems to be moving toward passing an omnibus spending bill; wrapping the remaining nine annual appropriations bills into a single package. Passage, especially in the U.S. House is uncertain as 101 conservative republicans previously did not support their party leaders because they were unable to deliver more substantial spending cuts for FY 2012. Currently, congressional leaders believe the best vehicle to move the omnibus spending bill is the Defense appropriations bill which typically garners support from most members of Congress simply because they do not want to withhold funding for the military.

Cansler Consulting is an experienced lobbying firm in budgeting, agriculture, rural healthcare, and energy policies and through our Congressional relationships we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill. You can contact us at info@canslerconsulting.com or at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler
  1. Real Clear Politics 11/17/11 []
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