As the Congress returns to work this week, one of the biggest issues on the domestic agenda is most certainly health care reform. The next four weeks could hold a lot of news on that front.
Last week, President Obama told supporters that health reform has to be done this year - that won't be easy.
The Senate Health Committee will start going through the basics of reform legislation this week, with panel votes envisioned later this month.
The Senate Finance Committee - which is in charge of taxes - is also planning to meet later this month on ways to raise money to pay for reform.
Both are destined to be controversial. The nuts and bolts of the reforms are sure to be criticized as a bureaucratic maze, and backers have already found it won't be easy to sell key Democrats on the idea of higher taxes to pay for change.
The tax that is getting the most attention right now is the idea of taxing - for the very first time - health care benefits provided by employers to their workers.
That plan would treat the benefits as income for taxable purposes. It's not clear if the committee will try to exempt a certain amount, or if some will try to hit 100% of all benefits.
Right now, it's not a popular item in either party, as on the Democratic side, some unions have been running advertisements against the idea, urging voters to call their Democratic Senator to register their opinion.
For now, the White House is in a wait and see mode, much like they handled the creation of the economic stimulus bill, where they let Congressional Democrats take the lead.
Chances are that the Senate may try to forge a bill first in Committee, but as of now, the House seemingly would be the first to vote on a full bill.
As I've said before, the road gets steeper as more details come out. We may get some of those from the Senate Health panel this week, which will certainly throw a jolt of electricty through this legislative fight.
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