Tom Price: Congress will tackle Medicare privatization next year

The head of the House Budget Committee said Thursday that lawmakers are eying an overhaul of Medicare next year.

Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said he expects lawmakers to push forward with an overhaul “within the first six to eight months” of President-elect Donald Trump's administration...

It's the first time that a House GOP leader has said officials are planning to fast-track an overhaul of Medicare in 2017.

Privatization of the federal program for senior health care is a top priority of House Speaker Paul Ryan, but it’s a dicey topic – given that old people are more likely to vote. Especially in off-year elections.

Price, a congressman from Roswell, is also being talked about as a potential secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a Trump administration. He'll be on GPB’s “Political Rewind” at 3 p.m. today with one of your Insiders and host Bill Nigut. We’ll be pressing him for more details.


We’re told that it wasn’t House Republican leaders who pressured state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, to withdraw House Bill 3, a measure aimed at women in Muslim garb.

Rather, advocates of “religious liberty” legislation persuaded Spencer to drop the issue, with the observation that “We need this special legislation to protect our citizens from people like us” isn’t necessarily a winning argument.


On that same topic, the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday thanked state Rep. Jason Spencer for withdrawing H.B. 3. From the press release:

"We thank Rep. Spencer for withdrawing House Bill 3," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-GA. "Although the controversy over this legislation has come to a swift and welcome end, we hope to eventually meet with Rep. Spencer in an effort to dialogue, build bridges, and personally thank him for doing the right thing."


Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, a Republican mega-donor and one of the most influential Jewish GOP voices in the nation, is defending Donald Trump's pick of a strategist Steve Bannon as his top White House advisor. Bannon is executive chairman of Breitbart News, which has served as a platform for many with anti-Semitic, white nationalist and racist views.

In a statement passed around on Twitter, Marcus called Bannon "a passionate Zionist" and cast the attacks on him as an attempt to undermine the president-elect's administration.

"What is being done to Steve Bannon is a shonda," he said. That's Yiddish for "shame." The entire statement, posted on Breitbart News, of course:

I have known Steve Bannon for many years. I have been shocked and saddened to see the recent personal attacks on Steve. Nothing could be further from the truth. The person that is being demonized in the media is not the person I know. These attacks on Steve are nothing more than an attempt to undermine the incoming Trump Administration. I have known Steve to be a passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel who felt so strongly about this that he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out. What is being done to Steve Bannon is a shonda.

Marcus also recently spoke at an Atlanta Jewish Breakfast Club roundtable. From the Atlanta Jewish Times:

Trump was not his first or even 10th pick for the Republican nomination, Marcus told the more than 70 attendees, but once the party selected the New York businessman, Marcus embraced him as preferable to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.


“Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air,” Marcus said, and he poses a threat to government employees standing in the way of economic growth. “Every bureaucrat in Washington is a monster.”


Marcus, the father of AJT owner and publisher Michael Morris, has no interest in a formal role in the Trump administration but said he will make himself available whenever the new president wants his advice.


Former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich had already told us as much, but he made it official this week: he will not be in Donald Trump's Cabinet. He told McClatchy he won't accept a Cabinet post and that his aim is to be "focused on strategic planning."

We reported last week that he wants to be a "senior planner" in the Trump administration.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.