House Republicans Announce Changes to Aviation, Healthcare Bills
March 21, 2017
House Republicans announce changes to healthcare bill; House GOP committee chairman said Trump infrastructure package could be included in aviation bill; U.S. Current Account Trade Deficit Decreases 3.1% to $112.4B in Q4; Economic Confidence Strong, Yet Below Recent High.
- House Republicans announce changes to healthcare bill. House Republican leaders released a set of changes to their ObamaCare replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, on Monday night, as they seek to win more votes for the legislation. The House changes are in the form of a manager’s amendment. The changes include two measures that conservative Republican Study Committee members won at the White House on Friday: allowing states to require Medicaid recipients to work and allowing states to choose a Medicaid block grant rather than the per-capita system in the current bill. Another change is targeted at New York state, which would cut off federal Medicaid reimbursement for county contributions to Medicaid. The changes also include a medical tax deduction of $85 billion over 10 years, which the House Republicans are using to acknowledge calls from lawmakers to increase tax credits for older people to address projected cost spikes under the GOP bill. The bill will need 216 votes to pass on Thursday. [The Hill]
- House GOP committee chairman said Trump infrastructure package could be included in aviation bill. A House GOP committee chairman said that President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could be rolled into a must-pass aviation bill later this fall. Lawmakers are preparing to assemble legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when legal authority expires at the end of September. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that the FAA measure could be a legislative vehicle attracting other interests, as the bill includes a revenue component. Shuster even said that Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure rebuilding package to fix U.S. roads, bridges and airports could even be included in the measure. Trump has also called for spinning off air traffic control from the federal government, which could land in the FAA reauthorization bill. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- U.S. Current Account Trade Deficit Decreases 3.1% to $112.4B in Q4. The U.S. current-account deficit, a measure of the nation’s debt to other countries, fell 3.1% to $112.4 billion in the final quarter of 2016, according to the government. The drop in the current account deficit in the fourth quarter was tied to a large increase in primary income, or returns on American-owned assets held abroad, which offset a larger trade deficit in goods, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Tuesday. The current account deficit was 2.4% of GDP in the third quarter, down from 2.5% in the third quarter. [MarketWatch]
- Economic Confidence Strong, Yet Below Recent High. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index remained firmly positive at +11 for the week ending March 19. Evaluations of current conditions are at +17, a new high by one point with 35% of Americans saying the current condition of the economy is “excellent” or “good.” The score matches up with most weekly results since Americans’ economic attitudes improved in mid-November, yet is still five points below the index’s nine-year that was reached two weeks ago. The Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they feel that the economy is improving or worsening. The theoretical maximum is +100 if all Americans said the economy is doing well, and the theoretical minimum is -100 if all were to say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse. The index made gradual progress over most of Barack Obama’s presidency and turned positively shortly after Donald Trump’s election. For 18 consecutive weeks, the Gallup index has remained positive, the longest period of positive economic confidence since Gallup began daily tracking in 2008. [Gallup]