Today’s Headlines – January 17, 2012

Good morning! Here are your early morning headlines!

The Washington Post: Obama Hopes To Strike Balance In State Of Union Address
The president has been using the refrain “Change is . . . ” to catalogue a list of actions — including rescuing the auto industry, enacting health-care reform and ending the war in Iraq — he hopes will increase his reelection chances (Nakamura, 1/16).

The Washington Post: 84% Of Americans Disapprove Of The Job Congress Is Doing, Poll Finds
Lawmakers will return to Washington on Tuesday to begin an election-year work session with low expectations for any significant legislative action, while also receiving low approval ratings for themselves (Kane and Cohen, 1/16).

For more headlines …

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Republicans Map Election-Year Strategy In Wake Of Political Debacle Over Payroll Tax Cut
In the coming year, House Republicans remain doubtful about accomplishing anything more than the must-do spending bills and a year-long extension of the Social Security tax cuts, unemployment benefits and a reprieve in the cuts to doctors for Medicare payments. Congress faces a Feb. 29 deadline to agree on a new extension, no easy task after last year’s deep divisions but politically inevitable as lawmakers would be loath to raise taxes in an election year (1/16).

Politico: Payroll Tax Cut Deal May Come Faster Than Expected
The one-year payroll tax deal that eluded Congress last month — and set off a nasty brawl that bloodied Republicans who opposed Democrats’ short-term fix — could get wrapped up surprisingly quickly in the new session. … Congress must pass a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and Medicare payments for doctors before they expire at the end of February (Wong, 1/16).

The New York Times: Learning To Be Lean
As one of the many outgrowths of the sweeping federal health care law, health insurers and employers must now pay the cost of screening children for obesity and providing them with appropriate counseling (Abelson, 1/16).

The New York Times: U.S. To Force Drug Firms To Report Money Paid To Doctors
Many researchers have found evidence that such payments can influence doctors’ treatment decisions and contribute to higher costs by encouraging the use of more expensive drugs and medical devices (Pear, 1/16).

The New York Times: Study Of Retail Workers Finds $9.50 Median Pay
Retail workers in New York City earn a median of $9.50 an hour, most are part-time or temporary, and just 3 in 10 receive health insurance through their jobs, according to a new study of the city’s larger retailers (Greenhouse, 1/16).

Politico: Scott Walker’s Health Care Dilemma
It’s a political game of chicken Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hopes he can win. Walker – a tea party favorite who has changed his state’s bright blue health policy trajectory — is the lone Republican governor keeping an Early Innovator grant awarded early last year under the health reform law. He isn’t using the $37 million federal grant. He isn’t giving it up. And it may stay that way (Nocera and Millman, 1/16).