Cromnibus Cronyism: Spending Bill Loaded With Favors

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Peter Fricke Contributor
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Opponents on both sides of the aisle say the omnibus spending bill was filled with favors for special interests that Congress was not given time to properly debate.

Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney noted a section of the bill “Modification of Treatment of Certain Health Organizations.” Carney wrote, “This provision would provide protection from an Obamacare provision for exactly one entity: Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

Under Obamacare, insurers are required to pay out at least 85 percent of revenue in claims — a statistic known as the “medical loss ratio” — and although “most insurers can include as ‘medical losses’ various efforts to improve the quality of healthcare provided to their customers,” this did not originally apply to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The spending bill changed this and made it retroactive for four years. (RELATED: [VIDEO] Palin on Obama/Boehner Cromnibus Bill: ‘It Stinks to High Heaven’)

Carney acknowledged, “It’s hard to determine fairness when you begin with arbitrary profit caps and a tax code that gives special treatment to one group of insurers,” but notes that, “providing Obamacare relief to exactly one corporation by tacking an opaque provision onto the end of a 1,603-page bill hardly smells of good governance.”

The spending bill also reauthorized the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a source of taxpayer-backed loans and guarantees for American companies establishing themselves abroad.

Carney contends “OPIC is naked corporate welfare,” because it provides subsidies to select foreign businesses, often to the detriment of their U.S. competitors. (RELATED: Left and Right Outraged as Spending Bill Heads to Senate)

The major objection raised by Democratic opponents, most notably House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has to do with a provision that they say weakens the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill and “amounts to a giveaway for the big banks,” according to NBC News.

The change allows banks “to trade certain types of the risky, complex financial instruments known as derivatives” with backing from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a practice that had been banned by Dodd-Frank.

Elizabeth Warren, who has made criticism of “big banks” a central theme, said the reform would “let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money — and, when it all blows up, require the government to bail them out.”

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