The top Republican budget writer in the House created a stir this year with a financial plan that essentially privatized Medicare for future retirees. The Senate rejected it after a backlash. Democrats want to use that plan against Republicans in 2012.
The new Wyden-Ryan plan would keep traditional Medicare as an option for future retirees and leave the eligibility age at 65. But it also sets up a regulated competition with private insurance. Seniors in private plans would get a fixed payment from the government that’s more generous than in Ryan’s original plan.
Committee acts against lawmaker insider trading
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee sent the legislation to the full Senate. A similar bill is before a House committee, but it’s doubtful the legislation will be considered this year.
The Senate bill would extend many of its restrictions throughout the federal government, but the potential impact is unclear because each agency already has restrictions on use of nonpublic information.
A provision that only applies to lawmakers would require disclosure of any stock or commodities transaction of $1,000 or more within 30 days. The reports would be available online. Currently, members of Congress and their top employees list their financial transactions on annual financial disclosure forms.
The committee also ordered a one-year congressional study on the role of so-called “political intelligence firms,” which try to learn inside information from lawmakers and their staffs and pass it along to private clients.
Original sponsors of the legislation sought to have these firms register with Congress, as lobbyists do now. Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said more needs to be learned about these firms, and he promised to conduct a hearing next year.