In The Morning News

Washington Post: Easy Stimulus
"The Washington Post in an editorial wrote that the economic stimulus bill "could have been worse. But it could have been a lot better, too. Politically, checks for the elderly and veterans were a no-brainer; as economic stimulus, however, they were not clearly preferable to extended unemployment benefits and increased food stamps, both of which Congress rejected."
Los Angeles Times: Shift In Retiree Costs To Medicare Advantage
"Many large employers are struggling with the obligation to cover the rising medical costs of retirees, but last year officials in Michigan found a way to save at least $40 million on care for retired teachers and other public-school workers: Send the bills to Washington...Some lawmakers of both parties have begun to question whether the Medicare Advantage program needs an overhaul. "It's a runaway train," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Seniors lobby AARP and the American Medical Assn. want to curtail payments to private plans."
Congress Daily: Leavitt To Face Questions About Medicare "Trigger"
...Under the Medicare Modernization Act, the White House is required to give lawmakers a plan because Medicare spending has exceeded 45 percent of general revenues two years in a row. There is a debate within the administration about whether President Bush is required to send a Medicare plan to Congress. Referring to constitutional concerns Bush raised when he signed the MMA, OMB officials say they do not believe the administration is required to do anything. HHS Secretary Leavitt has said the administration will respond to the 45 percent "trigger," but he has not indicated how detailed the White House plan will be or whether it will go beyond the president's budget proposal. Leavitt will likely be peppered with questions about the administration's plans for the "trigger bill" when he appears before the Ways and Means Committee Wednesday..."

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