Posted Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at 6:08 PM
My colleague Matthew Yglesias characterizes the "sequester replacement" Plan B bill as a "Christmas tree" for conservatives, packed with stuff they can't get any other way. You can read the bill at this link, a few hours before Republicans try to pass it. (Remember when there was going to be 72 hours to read every new bill? Oh, the halcyon days of 2011.)
This is basically true, though because this sequester replacement is largely identical to the one passed in May, not many people noticed. Among the highlights:
Ending the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Like it sounds.
Ending the Home Affordable Modification Program. This was the big federal attempt to bail people out of bad mortgages; Republican say it failed, and it should go.
Tort reform. It folds the GOP's model for this, the HEALTH Act, into the budget cut.
Cutting funding for job retraining. It falls from $90 million to $79 million.
As Yglesias says, the main importance of this stuff is to highlight what Republicans will demand in the next, real round of negotiations. How do you buy off the votes? With cuts to social services, unspooling Obamcare, things like that. I asked outgoing Rules chairman David Dreier which of these things might be negotiable, and he didn't name any right away. "These are items that Democrats have supported in words, if not in votes," he said. Indeed. The May version of this bill got only 218 total votes, losing most Republicans.