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The big news last week was the Senate passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, its version of a healthcare reform bill, along strict party lines on Christmas Eve by a vote of 60-39 (Republican Jim Bunning, the baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and lameduck junior senator from Kentucky, had family commitments, of all things, and missed the vote). While both House and Senate are off until the week of January 5, much of the first month of the New Year will be taken up with a conference committee trying to come up with legislation that will pass muster in both chambers and, ideally, not add to your clients' tax burden or the federal deficit.
The Congressional Budget Office on December 19th estimated that if enacted, the legislation would increase to 94% (from 83%) the number of nonelderly Americans covered by some form of health insurance.
On December 23, the CBO director's blog released an estimate on what the Senate bill would mean for Medicare funding; it said the legislation would cut growth in Medicare payments to roughly 6% annually rather than at the 8% clip at which it has been growing.
This last holiday-shortened week of the year will also see reports on retail sales, the Conference Board consumer confidence index, the State Street Investor Confidence Index, the Case-Shiller home price index, and weekly jobless claims.