The Note

The Wall Street Journal 's Jon Hilsenrath reports that car makers raised prices and ratcheted down incentives for buyers, which, coupled with higher car taxes in California, drove down car purchases in October.

David Broder reports that despite the recent positive economic news, in "the real world" people continue to struggle, particularly state budgets. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

Robin Pear and Robin Toner report on the Medicare compromise reached this weekend, Noting President Bush will be "actively pushing the bill … as he heads into a re-election year in which elderly voters are considered vitally important."

We heartily recommend the who's who on the Medicare lobbying circuit provided by the dynamic duo. LINK

On Sunday Pear laid out the details of this weekend's tentative agreement on Medicare, including: discount drug cards; drug benefits through Medicare for low-income seniors; health care savings accounts; triggers for congressional action based on Medicare's funding; higher premiums for wealthier seniors; and incentives for private health plans to participate in Medicare. LINK

David Rogers reports that Senate Democrats are less likely to filibuster if the Medicare bill sails through the House and writes that the bill "amounts to a huge government and business experiment that would remake the Great Society-era social insurance program more in the image of a competitive, market-driven alternative favored by Republicans."

The Washington Post 's Amy Goldstein and Helen Dewar on Sunday looked at the challenges that the new Medicare plan is facing. LINK

While Bush is throwing his weight behind the Medicare prescription drug benefit unveiled this weekend, certain provisions in the bill have key lawmakers upset, reports Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune. LINK

With the Medicare bill receiving support from centrist Democrats, House and Senate leaders will try to pass the legislation this week, reports the Hill's Bob Cusack. LINK

Medicare maven Vicki Kemper of the Los Angeles Times reports the compromise legislation will shift "Medicare as a government program … " to " … Medicare as a huge government-subsidized health insurance market" and that transition is what causes the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Laurie McGinley and Sarah Lueck look at the details and the stakes of the prescription drug benefit that forms the crux of the complicated Medicare negotiations.

"This current fight echoes the debate in the years leading up to Medicare's creation in 1965. Republicans, backed by the powerful American Medical Association, then opposed a government-run program and pushed instead for federal subsidies for the elderly to buy private insurance. But such insurance coverage wasn't widely available then, and a Democratic-controlled Congress, backed by unions, pushed through a broad-based social insurance program, a step many saw as a move toward national health insurance for all. The one compromise: Medicare would resemble private health insurance, paying doctors and hospitals on a fee-for-service basis, using private insurers as intermediaries and calling patients 'beneficiaries.'"

Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times looks at the energy and Medicare endgames. LINK

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