Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid presented an $848 billion health-care overhaul package on Wednesday that would extend coverage to 31 million Americans and reform insurance practices while adding an array of tax increases, including a rise in payroll taxes for high earners.
Democratic leaders were jubilant that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $130 billion over the next decade. That projection, released shortly before midnight Wednesday, represents the biggest cost savings of any legislation to come before the House or Senate this year, but the measure's effective date also was pushed back by one year, to
2014. Democrats said the savings could prove more significant in the long run, though the CBO said they "would probably be small," amounting to around 0.25 percent of the overall economy, or no more than $650 billion between 2019 and 2029.
Those projected reductions could prove critical in winning the support of three wavering moderate Democrats whose votes Reid (D-Nev.) must secure to bring the legislation to the floor before the Senate breaks for Thanksgiving. But Reid also stacked the bill with provisions sought by liberals, including a public insurance option, albeit a version with an opt-out clause for states.
Ready? Set? MUD SLING!