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Congress: All eyes on Senate Finance

"Keep going. You don't have to fix all of it now. Just please don't let it stall. That's the essence of the message that Senate Democratic leaders have for their Finance Committee senators, who plan to start voting Tuesday on a remake of the nation's health care system." And the focus again is on the Finance Committee: "Democrats on the pivotal committee are disappointed with the bill from the chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. Republicans see a chance to deliver a stunning blow to President Barack Obama's top domestic priority." 
 
"Critics say a proposal by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus to raise money for the health care overhaul by taxing insurers on their most expensive plans could hit middle-class pocketbooks - particularly in New England, where health costs are high," the Boston Globe writes. "Baucus has proposed paying for more than a quarter of his $750 billion health care proposal with a 35 percent excise tax on 'gold-plated' insurance plans. It would be levied on insurance companies, which could pass on the expense to their customers. The tax was meant to be a compromise, but it has already caused an uproar on both sides of the political aisle, with liberals and conservatives alike complaining it would hurt low- and moderate-income workers and older workers - particularly in high-cost areas."

"As Senate Democrats look to close ranks heading into this week's markup of the Finance Committee health care bill, a perhaps larger political minefield looms — the merger of that measure with a competing Senate plan," Roll Call says.

Key player: "All Democratic eyes will be on Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) at the Finance Committee health care reform markup on Tuesday, when stakeholders expect the normally low-key lawmaker to play a pivotal role in revising Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) $856 billion reform blueprint," Roll Call writes. "Bingaman was a member of the bipartisan gang of six tasked with negotiating Baucus' health care mark ahead of its debut last week, and health care lobbyists say he could influence dramatically how his 12 Democratic Finance panel colleagues vote on any changes to the chairman's mark."

"The debate over revamping the nation's financial regulatory system will pick up steam next week when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner heads to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify before House lawmakers," The Hill writes. "House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has laid out a series of 11 hearings on new financial regulations this fall, and he aims to hold the first mark up hearing by mid-October."