October 14, 2011

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O’Malley: Pass the Jobs Bill “As Soon As Possible”

Yesterday, DGA Chair Martin O’Malley and other Democratic governors met with the President and his Chief of Staff to discuss the American Jobs Act and balanced approaches to reducing the deficit.

Highlights:

Politico: [O’Malley] didn’t pull any punches in assessing blame for the nation’s current economic situation, laying the tough choices now under consideration at the feet of the last Bush administration.

Washington Post: In a letter to the supercommittee’s members, O’Malley, who last December was elected to head the DGA, backed the White House’s call for a debt-reduction package including both cuts and revenue increases. He also urged the panel’s members not to avoid changes to Medicaid that would increase the burden on state governments.

Baltimore Sun: “We can’t afford to have nothing done,” Gregoire said. “We together are all very disappointed that there has been no action.”

National Journal: In a letter sent on Thursday before the meeting to all 12 super committee members, O’Malley and other Democratic governors asked the panel to act according to four main principles. They urged that the committee “protect Medicaid,” focus on job creation, avoid “job-killing cuts and cost shifts to the states,” and take a “balanced approach” where “every avenue for deficit reduction, including revenue increases,” is explored.

Washington Examiner: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at the White House Thursday called on a “do-nothing” Congress to pass President Obama’s stalled jobs bill. “Do it as soon as possible,” said the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “People in our states need jobs.”

The full articles are below:

Politico: Dem govs lobby supercommittee

By JONATHAN ALLEN | 10/13/11 3:25 PM EDT

Fearing deep cuts in federal support to their states, several Democratic governors set up a series of meetings Thursday to lobby supercommittee members and White House officials.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, and Govs. Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Christine Gregoire of Washington met separately with the Senate Democratic supercommittee members and the House Democratic supercommittee members in the Capitol. Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, a close ally of President Barack Obama, was expected to join the calls by telephone. Later in the day, the governors had scheduled a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

O’Malley also sent a letter to all 12 members of the supercommittee and House and Senate leaders in both parties urging a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that would use tax increases to spare states from harsh cuts to programs, such as Medicaid, that are shared ventures of state governments and the federal government.

“An approach to the national deficit comprised mostly of cuts would kill the jobs recovery by thwarting our efforts to repair our crumbling infrastructure, spur job creation through regional growth areas, or invest in educating the leaders of tomorrow and those who will keep America competitive,” he wrote.

O’Malley, writing in his capacity as chairman of the DGA, outlined a four-point wish list for the supercommittee: focusing on job creation, minimizing pain for the states that would be inflicted by cutting spending and moving toward a block-grant model for federal payments for various programs, limiting cuts to Medicaid, and raising revenue to help achieve the deficit-reduction target.

He offered the Democratic governors’ vision of how to save Medicaid money by enhancing coordination for “dual eligibles” — folks who are eligible to receive benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid — and creating a model that applies savings more evenly between the programs.

“Like you, we believe that there are responsible ways to preserve the integrity of Medicaid while producing savings, by improving the way we serve the ‘dual eligible’ population by providing better care coordination. This is a very complex population with multiple health service needs, and this complexity is further exacerbated by the split nature of Medicare and Medicaid programs,” they wrote. “Medicaid-based efforts can create considerable savings in the care of dual-eligibles, but much of that cost-reduction accrues to Medicare. Shared savings models would align financial incentives for both programs. … We also support more flexibility for states to design effective patient-focused management tools.”

He also didn’t pull any punches in assessing blame for the nation’s current economic situation, laying the tough choices now under consideration at the feet of the last Bush administration.

“In all the many difficult decisions we have to make as a country, job creation must be our top priority,” they wrote. “We will only get out of the Bush recession, and retire the Bush deficit, if we employ more of our people.”

Washington Post: Dem governors huddle with debt ‘supercommittee’ members

By Felicia Sonmez

Supercommittee co-chairs Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) (J. Scott Applewhite – AP) A quartet of Democratic governors is huddling Thursday with members of Congress’s debt-reduction “supercommittee” on Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers on the panel to focus on job creation and avoid making cuts or changes to entitlement programs that would result in a greater burden on the states.

Democratic Governors Association Chairman and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are holding separate meetings with the Democratic House and Senate members of the bipartisan debt-reduction panel, according to a Democratic aide with knowledge of the meetings.

The governors met at 2:30 p.m. with the three Senate Democrats on the panel – Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and Co-chair Patty Murray (Wash.) – and at 3 p.m. with the committee’s three House Democrats – Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.).

The governors’ huddle with House Democratic members of the supercommittee was organized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was also present at the meeting.

Later Thursday afternoon, the governors are slated to visit the White House and discuss President Obama’s jobs package with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, the aide said.

In a letter to the supercommittee’s members, O’Malley, who last December was elected to head the DGA, backed the White House’s call for a debt-reduction package including both cuts and revenue increases. He also urged the panel’s members not to avoid changes to Medicaid that would increase the burden on state governments.

“Many of the proposals to reduce federal Medicaid costs, such as those related to state use of provider taxes and ‘blended rates’ would simply shift the burden from the federal government to the states,” O’Malley wrote.

“These reductions will require states to fill in funding shortfalls with state resources, leading to damaging cuts that affect eligibility, benefits and provider payment rates,” he added. “Instead, policy makers should find a way to implement patient-focused management tools such as integrated care models like medical homes and other delivery system reforms that could improve quality of care and lower cost.”

News of the meetings and of O’Malley’s letter comes as the supercommittee’s deadline looms a little over a month away. The bipartisan 12-member panel, created under the August debt-ceiling deal, must arrive at a deal to achieve at least $1.5 trillion in deficit savings; if it doesn’t, a $1.2 trillion across-the-board cut to defense and domestic discretionary spending will be enacted.

Individual lawmakers, ranking members on House committees and outside groups have all been lobbying the supercommittee members, who have taken to conducting most of their recent meetings behind closed doors in the hope of hammering out a bipartisan deal.

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Patty Murray

Co-Chair

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling

Co-Chair

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairwoman Murray and Chairman Hensarling:

As governors, we understand the difficult choices faced by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. In our states, we are working to create jobs, balance budgets, and make the modern investments necessary to expand opportunity and move forward — all at the same time. To create jobs and move our country forward, we must find the will to make similar choices at the national level.

In all the many difficult decisions we have to make as a country, job creation must be our top priority. We will only get out of the Bush recession, and retire the Bush deficit, if we employ more of our people.

Democratic Governors urge you to act according to the following principles:

· Focus on job creation. Job creation initiatives like infrastructure investments are ultimately the most effective tools we have that are reducing deficits. America needs the work, Americans need the jobs.

· Avoid job killing cuts and cost shifts to the states. Deeper federal cuts would kill our fragile jobs recovery and reverse the positive progress made so far in stabilizing our economies as states and as a nation. The fact of our shared economic circumstance is that public sector job losses and job cuts are undermining the positive private sector job gains for the national jobs recovery.

· Protect Medicaid. Democratic Governors remain committed to protecting Medicaid for low and moderate income populations. Unfortunately, the Medicaid program is a prime target for cuts to achieve deficit reduction, and we are prepared to help you come up with reasonable ways to achieve savings. Many of the proposals to reduce federal Medicaid costs, such as those related to state use of provider taxes and “blended rates” would simply shift the burden from the federal government to the states. These reductions will require states to fill in funding shortfalls with state resources, leading to damaging cuts that affect eligibility, benefits and provider payment rates. Instead, policy makers should find a way to implement patient-focused management tools such as integrated care models like medical homes and other delivery system reforms that could improve quality of care and lower cost.

We strongly oppose any block grant approach, especially the one contained in the House-passed budget resolution. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this proposal would reduce federal funding for Medicaid by 35% in 2022 and 49% by 2030, compared to the existing funding formula. Federal funding shortfalls for Medicaid could be even larger in certain years under a block grant because the proposal would not provide for any funding increases in during economic downturns. Such draconian cuts to a program that serves as the last line of defense for many hard-working Americans in need of critical health care services will increase the number of uninsured and emergency room costs.

Like you, we believe that there are responsible ways to preserve the integrity of Medicaid while producing savings, by improving the way we serve the “dual eligible” population by providing better care coordination. This is a very complex population with multiple health service needs, and this complexity is further exacerbated by the split nature of Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicaid-based efforts can create considerable savings in the care of dual-eligibles, but much of that cost-reduction accrues to Medicare. Shared savings models would align financial incentives for both programs. We stand ready to work with you to achieve savings while ensuring access to care for this vulnerable dual eligible population. We also support more flexibility for states to design effective patient-focused management tools.

· Apply a balanced approach. It is an economic and historic truth that to create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments. Already faced with billions of dollars in federal and state spending cuts and the potential for billions more, Democratic Governors urge the Joint Committee to explore every avenue for deficit reduction, including revenue increases.

Our global competitors are investing in their infrastructure and in the skills and education of their workforce. To create jobs we must be willing to do the same.

An approach to the national deficit comprised mostly of cuts would kill the jobs recovery by thwarting our efforts to repair our crumbling infrastructure, spur job creation through regional growth areas, or invest in educating the leaders of tomorrow and those who will keep America competitive.

The American people work hard at their jobs, now their government must do its job. Democratic Governors are ready to share their ideas about how you can achieve this goal and restore confidence in our economy and our future.

There is nothing more important for a family than a job, and nothing more important for our country, in these challenging times. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working together to put America on a sustainable path to recovery.

Sincerely,

Chairman

Governor, State of Maryland

cc: The Honorable Harry Reid

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

The Honorable John Boehner

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

The Honorable Max Baucus

The Honorable John F. Kerry

The Honorable John Kyl

The Honorable Robert J. Portman

The Honorable Patrick Joseph Toomey, Jr.

The Honorable Dave Camp

The Honorable Fred Upton

The Honorable Jim Clyburn

The Honorable Xavier Becerra

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen

By Felicia Sonmez |  04:06 PM ET, 10/13/2011

Baltimore Sun: O’Malley urges Congress to act on jobs

Following a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democratic governors of Washington and Minnesota called on Congress to take quick action to address the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment by passing the administration’s jobs bill.

Echoing earlier statements in support of the American Jobs Act – Obama’s $447 billion proposal to kick start the economy – O’Malley argued lawmakers should pass the bill “as soon as possible” and that Democratic leaders would keep the pressure on “this do-nothing Congress to do something on jobs.”

The meeting, which included White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, came days after the Democratic-led Senate failed to muster the 60 votes needed to bring Obama’s jobs measure to the floor for debate. Republicans, concerned about the bill’s cost, voted against it en masse. Two centrist Democrats also opposed it.

Senate leaders are now looking to break the jobs bill into smaller parts. The legislation would extend and deepen a payroll tax holiday for individuals, create new tax breaks for businesses, pump $100 billion into infrastructure and extend unemployment insurance.

The governors also met Thursday with Democratic members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to argue that the panel should not target Medicaid as it looks to trim federal budget deficits by more than $1 trillion. In a letter signed by O’Malley, the governors argued Medicaid reductions would “require states to fill in funding shortfalls with state resources, leading to damaging cuts.”

Asked about the meeting, which was first reported by the Washington-based National Journal, O’Malley said the bulk of the discussion with the deficit-reduction committee members focused on job creation.

Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, argue that Congress has taken action on jobs, noting the passage Wednesday of free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea as well as what Boehner called “numerous bills to stop excessive regulations that are threatening the creation of jobs.”

“Republicans remain squarely focused on jobs, and once again this week we’ve passed several bills aimed at creating a better environment for job creation and putting Americans back to work,” Boehner said.

O’Malley, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, was joined by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

“We can’t afford to have nothing done,” Gregoire said. “We together are all very disappointed that there has been no action.”

National Journal: Democratic Governors Ask Committee Not to Pass Medicaid Costs to States

By Billy House

Updated: October 13, 2011 | 5:07 p.m.
October 13, 2011 | 2:25 p.m.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was one of a handful of Democratic governors who petitioned the Democratic members of the super committee not to pass costs along to states.

Two Democratic governors met privately on Thursday with Democratic members of the deficit-reduction super committee, urging against any effort to shift Medicaid-related costs and other expenses to the states.

In attendance was Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors’ Association, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined by telephone. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire was slated to join the meeting, which was organized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who attended, but couldn’t make it.

The governors’ main message to the Democratic members of the deficit panel was about Medicaid-related costs and who is responsible for them, but they also pressed job creation in general and aspects of Obama’s defeated jobs bill.

Along with super committee Cochairwoman Patty Murray, a senator from Washington, Democrats on the deficit committee are Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts; and Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Xavier Becerra of California, and James Clyburn of South Carolina.

The 12-member bipartisan panel has until Nov. 23 to vote on recommending at least $1.2 trillion in deficit-reduction moves to Congress in order to avoid triggering potentially painful across-the-board cuts.

O’Malley and Dayton were set to meet later with White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

In a letter sent on Thursday before the meeting to all 12 super committee members, O’Malley and other Democratic governors asked the panel to act according to four main principles.

They urged that the committee “protect Medicaid,” focus on job creation, avoid “job-killing cuts and cost shifts to the states,” and take a “balanced approach” where “every avenue for deficit reduction, including revenue increases,” is explored.

On Medicaid, the letter urged that it be left alone, and “damaging cuts” to the federal health program for the sick and disabled not be pursued.

The letter also dismissed a proposal from President Obama to streamline how federal Medicaid matching rates are calculated, arguing that it will simply lead to states having to fund an even greater piece of the program. The federal government on average picks up half of Medicaid costs for states. Medicaid spending makes up the largest chunk of most state budgets.

The Democratic governors went on to spell out their strong opposition to a plan from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would “block grant” Medicaid, handing over more power to states to run the program while slashing federal funding.

To achieve Medicaid savings, the governors told the super committee to give them more flexibility in managing care for seniors who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. When states reduce costs for the “dual eligible” population, for example by making sure patients take their medication after a hospital stay, they do not see those savings in their Medicaid bottom line—it instead goes to Medicare.

The letter at one point slammed the Republican administration of former President George W. Bush for the nation’s economic ills.

“In all the many difficult decisions we have to make as a country, job creation must be our top priority,” the letter argued. “We will only get out of the Bush recession, and retire the Bush deficit, if we employ more of our people,” the letter states.

Washington Examiner: O’Malley pushes Obama’s jobs bill at White House

By: Brian Hughes | 10/13/11 5:18 PM
Examiner Staff Writer

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at the White House Thursday called on a “do-nothing” Congress to pass President Obama’s stalled jobs bill.

“Do it as soon as possible,” said the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “People in our states need jobs.”

Along with Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Washington Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, O’Malley met with Obama at the White House Thursday to discuss a jobs bill blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this week.

At an earlier press conference Thursday, Obama vowed to submit individual pieces of the bill to Congress, forcing them to vote on ideas that he says have the backing of the general public.

O’Malley did not reveal which component he would like to go before Congress first.