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Dan Balz's Take

How Passing Health-Care Reform Could Change the Political Landscape

By Dan Balz
With the Senate Finance Committee vote on Tuesday, the default position for health care has flipped. From the will-it-or-won't-it-pass drama of late summer, there is now a growing presumption among Democrats and a number of leading Republicans that Congress will approve some kind of bill by the end of the year.

The path to final passage is not simple. The fragile and disparate coalition of Democratic liberals and moderates (and perhaps a Republican or two) needed to pass the legislation will be stretched to the breaking point. There will be ample opportunities for the coalition to crack apart. Nothing is yet guaranteed, given the wide gulf that still exists over some key provisions in the bill.

But failure to pass a bill now would be more of a surprise than passage. All year, White House officials have argued that failure on health care is not an option, given the debacle that followed the collapse of health care legislation in 1994. Democrats have gotten that message and are now grinding forward toward a conclusion. White House officials believe President Obama is likely to get the signing ceremony he has long hoped for.

What then are the potential political implications for the president, his party and minority Republicans if the year ends with the president hosting a big signing ceremony to herald a new era for the American health care system? A big win for the Democrats? Despair among Republicans? Not surprisingly, Democrats and Republicans have sharply different expectations for what may happen.

Democrats assume substantial political benefits, both for getting the job done and for changes that they believe the public will see as improvements in the kind of health care coverage they have. They believe the passage of a health care bill will stand with other landmark achievements that have come under Democratic presidents, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist, predicts that, at a minimum, there will be a huge, short-term benefit for the president and his party. "Big social problems create big political and policy challenges, but also huge political payoffs," he said.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who was in the Clinton White House when health care failed in 1994, long has argued that there is another potential benefit, which is that Democrats can prove that they are capable of governing and making Washington work.

Given control of the White House and their big majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats should be able to enact their agenda, but the public has come to expect gridlock rather than progress and this has contributed to anger at Washington. "I think that there will be a general sense of satisfaction that we got something done," White House senior adviser David Axelrod said.

Democrats also believe that Republicans' near-unanimous opposition to the bill will provide a double benefit. Not only will Democrats be seen as the responsible, governing party, they argue, but the GOP's image as a party on the sidelines, unwilling or incapable of contributing to a solution to one of the country's most long-standing problems, will be reinforced.

The president, after months of being second-guessed about his handling of the debate and questions about what he has accomplished, may see a boost in his own personal standing as well. White House officials have told Democrats for months that the more popular Obama is, the more their 2010 prospects will be enhanced -- and that a health care bill will be a major positive step toward that future.

All that assumes not only that a bill passes, but also that in its implementation, voters see changes that they like. Democrats believe that in the short term, that is likely to be true, because some of the first changes implemented are insurance reforms widely popular with the public. Provisions that may be more problematic in their impact do not take effect as quickly.

Republicans see the environment far differently. "The sugar high from a signing ceremony just might be as good as it gets for President Obama and Democrats," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist. "It could be all downhill from there."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich believes Obama and the Democrats are heading for major problems if they add a health care bill, with all its complexities, on top of the cost of bailing out the economy. The Democrats have ignored warning signs from the public to go slower. Now, Gingrich argues, the health care bill could further harm the economy and strain health system to the breaking point.

"I think the odds are they'll pass something and I think it will be to the left of [the Finance Committee bill]," Gingrich said. "I think it's beyond trouble."

Republicans see voters potentially recoiling against legislation that would add another $800 billion or more to the federal budget. They discount Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Finance Committee bill won't blow a bigger hole in the deficit, and say the health care legislation will be cost the government hundreds of billions more in the years not covered by the 10-year window. They also argue that the final product will be more expensive, with fewer cost controls, than the Finance Committee bill.

"Even if the CBO blesses this bill, Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will own the explosion of spending and the federal deficit at the ballot box in 2010 and 2012," Madden argued.

Other Republicans sees the potential for the Democratic coalition to fracture further as the debate nears a conclusion. Liberal and labor union opposition to the Finance Committee bill could collide with the House Blue Dogs and Senate moderates. If, in the middle of these final negotiations, Democrats lose the Virginia and New Jersey governors' races next month, the party could emerge more deeply divided.

Republicans also believe that, in the final months of the legislative debate, there will be growing criticism of the bill, particularly from some of the industry stakeholders who have generally held their fire until now. That could divide the country further and make Americans more skeptical about the implications of a new health care system.

"I'm not sure you can ever resolve that debate or discussion," Axelrod said hours after the Finance Committee vote. "At this point, I think you have to enact it and implement it well. I think people are prepared for us to enact it. I think there are elements of it that will come on line quickly on which those who supported it will be able to campaign on next fall."

Neither side can be too confident in their assumptions. The Bush White House and Republicans anticipated major benefits from passage of a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. Initial reaction was negative. Even when opinion turned more positive, other issues proved more powerful and politically costly in Bush's final years. The same could happen next year, especially if the unemployment is high.

The fact that opponents and proponents now think passage is more likely than impasse marks another important step in the battle over health care. But it is clear that the arguments will not cease with the possible enactment of a bill. The debate will shift to a new arena, but it will not subside for some time.

Posted at 4:44 PM ET on Oct 14, 2009  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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1880 PREBLE 'Hist. of Flag' 164 The mysterious Scandinavian standard..the supposed insurer of victory..was on board [Sweyn's] ship.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | October 21, 2009 5:18 PM

The Republican assumption that the passed bill will cost more than teh Baucus bill isn't supported by the fact that two House possibilities have been priced out by the CBO as considerably lower.
The GOP and AHIP like to portray the Public Option as a huge added cost. When people do the math, they find that it isn't.

Posted by: F_L_Palmer | October 19, 2009 12:31 PM

Without the public option or a single payer system the United States can't compete in business with Europe and the Far East, where they realize huge business cost savings by shifting the burden of health care and social insurance onto the government where it properly belongs. Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty, right? Promote the general welfare means nobody should fall through the floor unless they really are determined to.
When our citizens are freed from worrying about health care, retirement, and unemployment, there will rise a new class of entrepreneurs who, liberated from paperwork and drudgery, will begin a new era of innovation and economic renewal.
Those whose worship of Reagan's idiotic anti-American Know-Nothingism should move to Ethiopia where absolute liberty reigns, and no government can interfere with their Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment or disability. Oh, wait, they don't get those in Libertarian La La Land, do they? Nasty brutish and short was not the goal of America; it's sad that Europe learned the lessons of responsible capitalism better than we did.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | October 16, 2009 4:14 PM

EDWARD VII OF GREAT BRITAIN
1841-1910
We are all Socialists now-a-days.
'Speech at Mansion House, 5 Nov. 1895.'

Posted by: edtroyhampton | October 15, 2009 4:23 PM

After all this 'work, cajoling' of the Blue Dogs-- I do hope Americans are given a bill that is worth the time taken to put it together. In short, a bill with a public option.

Irrespective of what side claims 'victory' -- in time the consequences will change the political landscape. No two ways about it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxwMckT3GbA

Posted by: Victoria5 | October 15, 2009 3:52 PM

Mr Balz, I thought you were one of the few serious Journalists in Washington? Your reporting on this topic is so premature. Given the seriousness of this bill, I had thought you wait for this to reach the president's desk before speculating on it's outcome? It is commentary like this that supports the presidents talk about who is up and who is down mentality in Washington. People like you see a health care bill not as something good for the American people, but points scoring for the Presidents and Democrats and a defeat for the Republicans. That such an assessment comes from you is regrettable. Needless to mention all your self styled republicans and democratic strategists with their good for nothing predictions and false theories.
One questions, what do these strategists actually do for a living besides feeding the public media with garbage and false hypothesis? Is this their main job or do they do something else? My advise to them, get a real job where your actual performance can be measured and monitored. For your own reputation in journalistic reporting Mr Balz, I can only hope that you shy away from such hypothesis theories and predictions because this Health Care Bill and debate is above all these.

Posted by: vickjungo | October 15, 2009 3:46 PM

I believe we'll get a bill with a strong public option as the momentum has been moving in favor of the Democrats. The GOP opponents peaked too early and Obama was able to dispel many of their lies about reform. The public option is key, however, because any bill without it will be useless.

Posted by: jsquires | October 15, 2009 1:20 PM

If the Catholic Church really believes in health care, then why do they want a universal program, Is not Jesus the Great
Physician and Healer? Did we not get kicked out of the garden because of sin? If we don't trust Jesus, I guess they trust government! If people want good health they must seek Jesus as their Lord and Savior, not government. If Catholics want government to control their care, good luck to them. Abortion, partial birth abortion, birth control, homosexuality, trans- bi-sexual. When will the Catholic Church embrace Jesus? Why do they vote for these Choices? Get a clue, government is greedy, they don't care for anyone unless they want their vote, that it my friends, pure and simple.

Posted by: boski66 | October 15, 2009 12:59 PM

". . . Obama is likely to get the signing ceremony he has long hoped for." So, that's what's important, a signing ceremony?

Somebody gets a bill named after them, and the spoiled brat in the Oval Office gets a signing ceremony.

Well at least the DC deadweights have their priorities in order.

Posted by: rocks1 | October 15, 2009 12:39 PM

It's not a matter of Republican or Democrat, you can't start a new healthcare plan if your broke. All the other countries know we are broke, that's why they don't want to deal in US currency any more, why can't we see it. First we have to get our financing in order and then we can try to fix our health care, which we know is broke.

Posted by: bobeve | October 15, 2009 12:34 PM

Every time the government hasn't enough money to satisfy their greed of more and more money and power, they come up with a new give away program, this so-called health care bill is nothing more than a money and power grab, we should fix the problems that we have, not turn a blind eye to them like the legislators. They can't fix the mess they've made so they simply say there's a better plan. Don't be duped, least you are as clueless as they are.

Posted by: boski66 | October 15, 2009 11:27 AM

Congress: "First, Do No Harm." Take Down the Bush-Cheney "Torture Matrix."

SILENT, HARMFUL MICROWAVE AND LASER DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS DEPLOYED AGAINST AMERICAN CITIZENS BY MULTI-AGENCY FED PROGRAM

• Physical and Neurological Impairment Under the Cover of Telecommunications (faux cell tower installations), "Less-Lethal" Law Enforcement Weaponry

A federal-local multi-agency coordinated action program -- an ongoing legacy of the Bush-Cheney years -- is committing a quiet genocide on thousands of unjustly targeted Americans...

...via microwave/laser weaponry; covert financial exploitation; and a grassroots vigilante army fronted by community policing, town watch and anti-terrorism units who use covertly placed warrantless GPS devices and cell phones to stalk their targets...

... a GRASSROOTS GESTAPO protected by federal and local law enforcement who know all about it...

...a domestic "torture matrix" hiding in plain sight, unreported by a complacent, manipulated mainstream media, unquestioned by naive and apparently misinformed Obama officials.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

BAN the use of microwave and laser weaponry against the American people; and

BAN the warrantless GPS/cell phone tracking of U.S. citizens -- the electronic backbone of a GRASSROOTS GESTAPO now operating on your watch.

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 15, 2009 10:43 AM

Without a public option this plan is a giant gift to the insurance companies.

The public option is consistently supported by over 60% of the populace. This, even after months of Republicans demonizing it.

If Dems can't get this passed with a public option they need to go ahead and admit they can't govern.

Posted by: Hillman1 | October 15, 2009 8:59 AM

as we can see obama could care less about the jobless...
so why does anyone care he would care if obamacare goes wrong and hurts more than it helps...
like nero...
obama wil play the fiddle...
no matter what...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 15, 2009 7:54 AM

The doomsayers will regret their false perspective of American middleclass and their voting behaviour. For God's sake, healthcare is a basic human right!

The time is appropriate for POTUS to push all levers to deliver healthcare bill now. While he simultaneously unleaches global non-proliferation and disarmament agenda to finally scale down GDP share of American defense establishment on a recurrent basis.

Global hot burnner issues will subside once it becomes manifest that nuclear powers are serious about non-proliferation and disarmament.

The issue in politics must be more butter (ie.employment) and less guns - from this financial crisis - and reforming laissez faire capitalist super-structure in line with expectations.

Posted by: hariknaidu | October 15, 2009 4:31 AM

The Republicans know that passing Any health care reform bill will Help the Democrats and Hurt the Republicans. That's the main reason they don't want Any health care reform bill to pass. If the Republicans cared at all about anyone but the very wealthy they would think, "Wow, we got the Democrats to put forth a bill with No public option, a bill that favors the insurance companies, a bill that the liberals don't like! Now, we can do what we're here to do and help those who are struggling and hurting!" But, NOOOOO. That would make Obama look good. "We can't do Anything that makes Obama look successful, even if it's something that would benefit millions of Americans!"

Posted by: Mmmichael | October 15, 2009 1:55 AM

The Democrats will sell their souls if they have to in order to get health care passed. If Americans dont like a lot of whats in the bill that gets passed, it's not really going to help the Dems. Add to that the millions more that will be unemployed by the time Nov. 2010 rolls around and its hard to see a very positive situation building for the Dems.

Posted by: kenpasadena | October 15, 2009 1:37 AM

Health care is going to pass and the sky isn't going to fall.
In the end the President will say "we had a robust debate" but the reality is the republicans never really showed up. They wanted this fail so they could gain momentum going into 2010. They quit before it ever started because it would have been too politically dangerous for most of them to support a bill that would be seen as an Obama win.
They'll criticize it and hope it falls apart, not because it isn't a good idea, but because their income depends on the failure of health care reform.
And it's not really their fault, it's a flaw inherent in democracy.
To get elected you have to convince people that other people just like them are actually evil and rotten and that their own team is special and somehow better than the other team.
In addition their ideas are the key to prosperity and happiness and their opponents will destroy everything you love.
It's an illusion that makes for engaging gamesmanship but keeps the best work from getting done.
Democracy is a beautiful thing but the hysteria and fury around it make people look stupid and short sighted.

Posted by: dccamp68 | October 15, 2009 1:21 AM

Dan Balz should have been a sports writer.
I just read an analysis on the Phillies/Dodgers NLCS series in USA today and it's funny how similar the two articles are.

Although Mr. Balz didn't mention batting averages or the importance of depth on the bench - it all amounts to the same thing.

USA Today has Phillies in 6

Gingrich has Obama losing if Democrats win.

And I say it's Dodgers/Yankees in the World Series!

Posted by: JohnQuimby | October 15, 2009 1:03 AM

If only Mr. Balz said something we don't already know or understand.

Posted by: pbarnett52 | October 14, 2009 11:55 PM

This country bites the big one. When big companies like oil,insurance and pharmacutical can out weigh the majority of the common voters it is a clear statement to me that this country is to corrupt for any hope. I have now decided that since the folks with all the money have all the say and mine doesn't count for anything I am going to try to be the biggest burden I possibly can on this country. I'm not going to look for a job and I'm gonna give up my insurance and let what ever emergency room I decide to show up at foot the bill. When I die I'm not gonna have a dime in my pocket and no assets, someone else can foot the bill for my funeral. I have totaly given up, it has been shoved in my face one to many times that this country only serves the wicked and the greedy. America is the evil empire the bible talks about with out a doubt and I pray that God comes down and wipes this wicked so called country off the face of the earth. Dear God I beg you come and smite america and the rest of the world with all your vengiance and wrath for we are all so deserving and past due as you did with soddom and gomorrah.

Posted by: brnshortridge1 | October 14, 2009 11:20 PM

orange3 wrote:
"Republican fought tooth and nail against social security and medicare just like they are fighting against health care reform now. And when health care reform is passed and as popular with voters as medicare and social security republicans will swear they really support it and have no intention of cutting it."

Not only that, but if the bill had included a public option, ten years from now Republicans would be falling over themselves to reassure the public they weren't going to harm public healthcare or try to re-privatise it.

Just as every conservative party and government does in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan. In all of those countries, it's political suicide to appear to threaten public healthcare.

Posted by: bourassa1 | October 14, 2009 11:08 PM

Ever know those people who keep lurching from one thing to another, sad aren't they, that is the state of the party of NO, no ideas, no plans, nothing, nada, zilch, zero..but they keep lurching from one talking point to another, if this happens, then this will happens,and so on...America has looked into the eyes of the GOP, and there is nothing there, zero, zilch, nada, nothing...

Posted by: ruraledcomm | October 14, 2009 9:34 PM

The Democrats are the big losers. They have majority control in both houses and the presidency and they fail to deliver universal health care or even a public option for medical insurance.

The real losers are the American people. They trusted Obama's promises last fall. Pelosi snd Reid are totally incompetent.

Posted by: alance | October 14, 2009 9:27 PM

the subtitle should just be "Democrats cheer, Republicans boo" Yawn.

Posted by: dotellen | October 14, 2009 9:17 PM

How long with the GOP No Nothing apologists keep pushing this lie:

"Medicare benefits for seniors will have to be reduced with $400B in cuts"

Its Medicare ADVANTAGE that is proposed to be cut NOT underlying Medicare. You know that, your GOP synchophants know that, but yet you keep repeating your lies hoping no one will stop you. Perhaps you think if you tell a lie 100 times it becomes true. Only in GOP's parallel universe.

Posted by: leichtman | October 14, 2009 9:16 PM

Republican fought tooth and nail against social security and medicare just like they are fighting against health care reform now. And when health care reform is passed and as popular with voters as medicare and social security republicans will swear they really support it and have no intention of cutting it.

Posted by: orange3 | October 14, 2009 9:09 PM

Passing a health care bill probably will not significantly politically help the Democrats nor be a plus for Republicans. Most independents are intelligent enough to discern a health care bill enacted this or early next year will not be true health care reform.

There seems little likelihood health care coverage will be universal among legal residents, affordable for people in the middle class expected to buy their own coverage or a viable public option. Most persons older than sixty-five are hardly so easily duped as to believe huge reductions in Medicare spending will not result in higher out of pocket expenses for them.

The Obama administration, Congressional Democrats and Republicans will resort to the usual partisan propaganda, excessively extolling or criticizing the bill. The economy will be far more important in determining whether Democrats retain control of both houses of Congress by overwhelming majorities after next year's elections.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | October 14, 2009 9:06 PM

Lieberman is not a D and should never be counted on to vote with them, period.

And this post is accurate and likely problematic:
"I expect that ultimately the winners of this particular piece of legislation are going to be the uninsured and working poor. The middle class won't notice much of a difference."

The middle class is where most of the voters are and if there is no Public Option and premiums do not come down, then the middle class will be p.o., which is what the GOP is counting on by their insistance that there be no public option. The second problem is that the Baucus plan does really kick in until 2013 which will give the GOP 3 years to whine and attack the plan before its implimentation.Sorry to say but if its viewed as primarily helping the poor and working poor it will be demagogued by the GOP in the 2010 election. And this sentiment is from someone truly hoping for real reform. I think that the House understands that there needs to be serious cost control to help the middle class and to help their re-election chances in 2010, which most feel that the Baucus plan doe not do.

Posted by: leichtman | October 14, 2009 8:53 PM

I predicted also that the democrats will pass something called health care "reform" because their base demands it and they think they have to. But it doesn't take rocket science to see that they can't possibly satisfy the requirements of increasing coverage, without reducing benefits, raising taxes on the middle class, or balooning the debt. So they will increase coverage on some currently uninsured, but fall well short of the universal coverage liberals want. Medicare benefits for seniors will have to be reduced with $400B in cuts, taxes, fees and higher premiums will be levied on the middle class, and the deficit will explode in the out years if this monstrosity is passed. The democrats assumption is that opposition will fade once it is passed. This is more hope and change kool-aid. They are the ultimate fools, victims of their own propaganda. The more people understand the real ramifications of this "reform", the fewer will be happy with it, and the democrats will pay a price in 2010 and 2012 far greater than they can possibly imagine.

Posted by: blackmage | October 14, 2009 8:52 PM

Sure, the extra prostate exams will raise costs, but they plan to save money by cutting out the lube. All we as citizens and taxpayers need to do is bend over.

Posted by: Rob_ | October 14, 2009 8:45 PM

A new day is dawning in America. Healthcare will level the playing field, and wrest control from the insurance companies and give it back to the people, where it belongs. Healthcare is too important to be left to the profiteering of the insurance companies.


Posted by: demtse | October 14, 2009 8:44 PM

A new day is dawning in America. Healthcare will level the playing field, and wrest control from the insurance companies and give it back to the people, where it belongs. Healthcare is more important to be left to the profiteering of the insurance companies.


Posted by: demtse | October 14, 2009 8:41 PM

The Democrats are making the very weird assumption that the reason that they lost big in 1994 was that they didn't pass some form of HillaryCare. In their minds, had they been able to succeed in their liberalism, the GOP wouldn't have picked up so many seats.

That's silly. The Democrats were punished for being too liberal, not for being not liberal enough.

Posted by: seraphina | October 14, 2009 8:17 PM

I hear the snake Lieberman is voting no, siding with the repubs again. Why is it the Republicans can all get together and vote no but the Democrats always fall apart. mm mm

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | October 14, 2009 8:14 PM

One thing is for sure. If any of the forms of Obamacare passes, the American public will be hit with massive tax increases.

The Baucus bill, which is the least costly of the five bills under consideration, increases taxes on 87% of the taxpayers by $400BB. It increases taxes to the insurance companies by $130BB which will be passed onto the insured (YOU). It increases taxes on the medical devices companies by $400BB which they will pass on to YOU. It decreases Medicare benefits by $440BB, and reduces payments to hospitals and doctors who provide medicare services by 23%.

So, instead of being the $827BB health care bill that the Senate calls it, it is actually a $2TT health care bill that will increase in cost by 8% annually.

Additionally it will increase the numbers of people being served by our existing medical practitioners and hospitals by approximately 30MM people which will have the effect of immediately swamping our already over loaded system.

Ask yourself - How is this an improvement?

Posted by: mike85 | October 14, 2009 8:10 PM

volley2.ind 101: ?>*:\ ...//2009:01:06:04:15:75*W
#610 of 615: William Hale (hinging0) Wed 14 Oct 2009 (03:41 PM)

Around 97% of non-elderly residents (those not covered by Medicare,
which kicks in at age 65) would be covered. Nearly half the 17 million
non-elderly residents who remain uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

=============NH:
Anyone who can link the idea that illegal immigrants will be revealed
by mandatory health insurance requirements, and thus will lead to
either an amnesty bill to prevent mass deportations by pressuring the
US government to "put up, or shut up", on the one hand, or to result in
deportation, reapplication, and remedial programs that the "America,
right or wrong" people want, might do more to pass health care [jet]
than any logical appeal regarding the health care legislation itself.

"Vote for health care: force amnesty" "Vote for health care; identify
and deport illegals!" Those would be the two slow guns.

The hazard is if those for amnesty lay back, and let those for
deportation carry the day and the health bill, they [dishes sound], So
there is a competition: those for amnesty have to really 'surge' to
get so much credit for passing health care than when illegals are
identified, they can make sure they are identified in such large
numbers the US government is helpless to do anything about it.

Killing the health care legislation will ensure the illegals are not
deported, but it runs the risk of a mid night hour twist by republicans
to look bipartisan and reconciling to vote for health care, and then
illegals will really be on the chopping block: Kind of a prisoners
dilemma.


volley2.ind 101: ?>*:\ ...//2009:01:06:04:15:75*W
#611 of 615: William Hale (hinging0) Wed 14 Oct 2009 (03:43 PM)

"License? Registration? Automotive Insurance? Health [sound]... will
that be part of traffic stops?

"Name, address, phone, Social Security number? Proof of health care
coverage?" Will it become part of job applications?

Is this the back door triumph of "The Mark of the Beast: 666?" Will
all leagal US residents henceforth berequired to prove we have health
insurance coverage [jet]. Or a medical savings account we control
invested in assets approved for such?

Posted by: randomsample | October 14, 2009 7:10 PM

It appears that if this bill passes , it triggers a civil war.
The people are on a different page than these "representatives".

The people have enmasse "No Confidence" in this Fed after bailouts NO was not heard.

Posted by: dottydo | October 14, 2009 7:06 PM

When will pundits realize that health care is not about being a Democrat or Republican? We're being played like pawns on a chess board by politicians of both ranks who are in bed with corporate and Wall Street doners. If you think that any politician is playing on principle when it comes to what is good for citizens then you've been asleep at the switch.

If the Democrats think that they a lot to gain politically by shoving a mandated private insurance bonanza down the throats of citizens without quickly addressing the jobless and homeless catastrophe then they are deluded.

As for the GOP, AKA party of NO, their chances have fallen to the level of Liz Cheney and Sarah Palin. They are living in the dark ages of politics and have deemed themselves totally irrelevant. Just last week the GOP voted against extension of unemployment while Republicans governors continue to sit on stimulus money received from the Federal government in order to prove a point that "Hey. The stimulus is not working."

Posted by: Single_Payer | October 14, 2009 7:05 PM

Article is interesting fodder for both sides. The VA and NJ elections may be early indicators that either the Democrats will hold onto gains from 2008 national election or the Republicans will ride the pendulum back towards balance in the House and Senate. The Blue Dogs are very anxious. I sat in an airplane next to a Blue Dog on the return home from DC a couple of weeks back. He/she was physically/mentally exhausted and worried that they would not be back in 2011. The town halls left an imprint on many of these freshmen legislators. Their campaign funds are running equal with highly qualified opponents. Frankly, many of the Blue Dog's are fiscal conservatives. The next two weeks in the Senate and following month in conference will be hold your breadth time.

Posted by: jhpbriton | October 14, 2009 6:47 PM

Only a fool would want to take credit for this health care bill. But then, Obama may indeed be that fool.

Posted by: ravitchn | October 14, 2009 6:32 PM

Keep digging...

Posted by: NoWeCant | October 14, 2009 6:31 PM

One other thing about the figures referenced by askgees: the CBO spreadsheet from whence they came makes it clear that those are based off of the 2nd-lowest cost "silver" package offered by the exchanges. I'm still trying to find something that makes clear the cost of the lowest-cost premiums.

Posted by: pointillicist | October 14, 2009 6:29 PM

So according to the Republicans quoted in this piece, if health care reform passes it will hurt the Dems in 2010/2012. But if it doesn't pass, the Dems will be punished in 2010/2012 too. So basically they've created a little fantasy world in which no matter what they win.

Posted by: pointillicist | October 14, 2009 5:37 PM


If the bill fails they lose face with the voters. If the bill passes and the low income people have to shell 4800.00 a year for coverage then they have made it worse on these people. So yes, they lose either way. It states that if you make 50K you will be paying 6700.00 per year. If you make 38K you will be paying 4800.00 per year. I really don't see any savings. All I see is the Gov. trying to force EVERYONE to purchase insurance. That could be done with out going through this. Insurance companies could lower costs if they picked up 44 million more customers where as the 44 million is small potato’s compared to the customers the insurance companies have. So there will be no competition or reason to lower costs.

Posted by: askgees | October 14, 2009 5:53 PM

Well, before getting into whether or not these figures will remain to be accurate, those costs wouldn't be seen by any of those people prior to the elections. So I'm not sold on the idea that the Dems will be punished for them. Keep in mind that we're not necessarily talking about the Baucus bill in its current form -- it's far more likely that the "health care bill" will be substantially different by the time it's reconciled and then voted on by Congress. The question we're responding to is more general: Will a "win" on the health care bill that eventually comes before congress hurt or help the Dems? The answers provided by Republican's above almost imply that the Republicans should be helping the bill get passed out of their own self-interest. I find that laughable.

Posted by: pointillicist | October 14, 2009 6:26 PM

"Even if the CBO blesses this bill, Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will own the explosion of spending and the federal deficit at the ballot box in 2010 and 2012," Madden argued....
**********************

Nope. The chickens won't come home to roost until the bill is fully implemented in 2014 (as proposed). Now do you know why they're pushing off those dates?

Look, I'm a lib, and I think that's a good political strategy. But, I gotta say, the current bills stink. They are loaded with giveaways from government to a for-profit (for-substantial-profit, I should say) industry that provides vital service to fewer and fewer Americans while driving more and more of them into bankruptcy. Our current health care delivery system is the number two cause, long-term, for the devastation of the middle class (number one being off-shoring of manufacturing).

We should be implementing single payer, but no one has the will or the political capital in the current economic climate to do that.

Posted by: abqcleve | October 14, 2009 6:09 PM

The Republicans are happy to accept the figures from the CBO of 1.6 Trillion but not any lower figures. They truly do wear ideologic blinders.

As to the Swiss system: the commenter before is correct in the highly regulated insurance industry that provides government subsidized and mandated basic care and private extended insurance for frills. The rub is the highly regulated basic care is non profit and is really regulated. The Swiss, however, enforce their regulations and the citizenry accepts the fact that regulations and rules are necessary in the conduction of business. We do not. I can hear the screams of anguish from not only the insurance industry but all the libertarians (near anarchists as far as business and personal regulations are concerned)and most of the people to the right of Joe Lieberman if we were to impose such regulations and actually enforce them.

Posted by: sauerkraut | October 14, 2009 6:01 PM

Gee, how interesting that all the nastiness of ObamaCare doesn't begin until after Pity President get's reelected.

Then there are the nonsense double jeopardy hate crime laws squirreled into a defense bill Obie will sign that will progressively weaken freedom of speech. Demos always chose the Sneeky Pete approach to get us to eat our Socialist vegetables, you see.

Then, instead of forthrightly pushing for an illegal alien amnesty, Demos just leave the southern border open long enough until the US is awash in Mexican colonists. Then use the hate crime laws to forbid a candid discussion about the impact of poorly educated, low skill immigrants on middle class cities and towns. Then Demos controvert all laws that prevent these colonists from illegally voting, making it virtually impossible to distinguish a legally registered citizen from an interloper.

Democrats seem happy to win ugly. And it's clear they hate our nation and its traditions.

Posted by: greg3 | October 14, 2009 5:58 PM

It's quite simple to know what will happen if this bill is passed

INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL HOLD US ALL HOSTAGE TO WHATEVER PRICES THEY WANT US TO PAY - they have come out and said this already

Insurance companies do not want healthcare reform.

Insurance companies do not want to help PEOPLE.
Insurance companies want to continue to rape and pillage WORKING men women and children, the elderly and anyone else all in the name of profits.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN GENERATIONS, we will see affordable healthcare UNAVAILABLE TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICAN WORKING CLASS

For the first time in generations, we will see more and more people die prematurely. The average life expectancy WILL DECREASE even as more medical breakthroughs come about.

ONLY THE RICH WILL have healthcare and we will become the NEXT CASTE system- AMERICA- MEETS INDIA

Posted by: kare1 | October 14, 2009 5:21 PM


Really. That's strange because they cannot raise rates with out Gov. approval. The insurance industry is the most regulated industry in the US. So you are wrong but what's sad is, you never even checked your facts you simply repost BS you read on these boards. Typical young LIB T@RDS. To lazy to do the research just like their to lazy to take care of them self's and are crying to the FEDS for a public option. Most of them are in college and still on their parents policies have never had to deal with issues regarding health or the insurance company. Yet they think they know what's best. LOL It's the stup1d leading the blind.

Posted by: askgees | October 14, 2009 5:57 PM

postFan wrote>>>>In the long term, people aren't going to be happy paying more for less coverage

According to Republicans, Americans ARE CURRENTLY happy paying MORE for the SAME coverage.
iow - Americans LOVE that their premiums have doubled and tripled during the past 8 years while wages have stagnated, and look forward to more of the same.

Posted by: angie12106 | October 14, 2009 5:57 PM

We need single-payer. In order to finance it we can do away with big govrnment programs of Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, illegal spying on Americans, and reduce defense following their failure on 9-11 (some defense).

Posted by: Maddogg | October 14, 2009 5:57 PM

At some point each insured person is going to compare before and after effects of this bill. I work with dozens of young family people who relish the tax rebates and other gifts they get. They will view this the same way because they will get subsidies and it will cover their limited health care needs. Medicare benes will realize the outcomes are going to change, it cant help but change if you take $500 billion out of Medicare. What about double coverage, spouses carrying the other as a dependent. That has to go away. What about working poor who have insurance and Medicare, That has to go away.

Then you will get all the special riders like exempting unions from tax on Cadillac plans and federal subsidies to state Medicaid plans

Posted by: wjwills7 | October 14, 2009 5:56 PM

So according to the Republicans quoted in this piece, if health care reform passes it will hurt the Dems in 2010/2012. But if it doesn't pass, the Dems will be punished in 2010/2012 too. So basically they've created a little fantasy world in which no matter what they win.

Posted by: pointillicist | October 14, 2009 5:37 PM


If the bill fails they lose face with the voters. If the bill passes and the low income people have to shell 4800.00 a year for coverage then they have made it worse on these people. So yes, they lose either way. It states that if you make 50K you will be paying 6700.00 per year. If you make 38K you will be paying 4800.00 per year. I really don't see any savings. All I see is the Gov. trying to force EVERYONE to purchase insurance. That could be done with out going through this. Insurance companies could lower costs if they picked up 44 million more customers where as the 44 million is small potato’s compared to the customers the insurance companies have. So there will be no competition or reason to lower costs.

Posted by: askgees | October 14, 2009 5:53 PM

Given all the rancor, but the equally compelling call from most Americans for change on this issue, wouldn't it be astonishing if the Repos simply and finally signed on to the process and joined the negotiations instead of just throwing stones at it from industry-bought bleachers. The truth of the matter here is--and always has been--that any political win for Obama, no matter how important for America, is a blow to Republican chances to make midterm gains. This is anathema to all but the most reasonable among them. As for the wingnut fringe, an increasingly large percentage of the mainstream GOP, no one will ever have--or want--them inside this debate. They belong where they have always been, on the outside looking in, screaming their fool heads off while everyone else moves forward. If the Dems are smart, they will unite over some (any) package and ram it down Rush's throat. Goodbye midterm Repo bonanza. Hello sanity in Washington again, at least until 2012.

Posted by: mdsdo | October 14, 2009 5:50 PM

Deficits absolutely don't matter. I'm a Keynesian as was FDR, JFK, and every American President since, no matter what lip service given to supply side this or Friedman Monetarism that. America ran a huge deficit at the end of WWII that didn't stop the largest economic growth in U.S. history and the creation of a huge middle class. During WWII we were spending 40% of GNP on the war effort, we are now spending around 2%. We Republicans start complaining about spending they're proving the don't know what they're talking about. They're just going back to their dogmatic belief system.

Posted by: jrcel | October 14, 2009 5:47 PM

It's going to be anti-climatic. Like most legislation. It's never as bad as people predict, nor is it ever as good.

I expect that ultimately the winners of this particular piece of legislation are going to be the uninsured and working poor. The middle class won't notice much of a difference.

And the upper middle class will complain about taxes.

While the rich will continue to care less as none of this will affect their wealth.

By the time Obama is up for re-election, the American people will have moved on to whatever the immediate crisis is of that moment as a metric of the Presidents performance.

My guess is the war in Afghanistan and gay rights will be those issues. Because by then the unemployment will be lower, and the congress will have moved to begin reducing the deficit.

So the republicans will attack on the two issues where there's no real right answer.

Posted by: onifadee | October 14, 2009 5:44 PM

So according to the Republicans quoted in this piece, if health care reform passes it will hurt the Dems in 2010/2012. But if it doesn't pass, the Dems will be punished in 2010/2012 too. So basically they've created a little fantasy world in which no matter what they win.

Posted by: pointillicist | October 14, 2009 5:37 PM

Whether or not the Democrats benefit will be determined by when the bill comes.

In the long term, people aren't going to be happy paying more for less coverage, which will be the natural result of health care reform that fails to address the excessive costs of doctors, lawyers, pharmaceuticals, hospitals and insurance who negotiate their rates among themselves without adequate consumer representation.

So when it dawns on the American people that a bill called "universal health care" just means sharing coverage with more people and paying more, whoever is in office should begin to make retirement plans.

Luckily for them, their health plan is separate from that which they're proposing for everyone else.

Posted by: postfan1 | October 14, 2009 5:34 PM

Bubbette1
The morons in government have already forgotten the town hall meetings? They will be re-introduced in the 2010 elections. There will be many new faces in DC after the elections. The longer this drags on the less chance there is of passage as the 2010 elections draw nearer.

This type of liberal drek cannot cover that this is not over by a long shot.
======================================
So you GOP types think that blocking health care for the American people is YOUR ticket to win the next election? Think again. Americans want Health Care, Congress works for the American People NOT the next election. That mentality of the GOP is why you are powerless and clueless.
Health Care Reform has come to America and You can't stop this train. Although Michael Steele said he will be the COW on the tracks. Ever see a cow that has been hit by a train?

Posted by: Julescator | October 14, 2009 5:32 PM

If anyone thinks that the GOP, the right wing pundits, and "fiscally conservative democrats" have the interests of the average American in mind, that person is out of their "right" mind.

Our politicians have been purchased by the health insurance industry.

Over $10 MILLION has been given to the OPPONENTS of health care reform (ABC evening news).

On the news today, it was announced on the news that the most recent "study" that was critical of health care reform (that was paid for by the health insurance industry) was "flawed" in its research methodology (PBS).

(Just for your own edification: Whenever there is any "research" or "study" done and the results announced, you should take the time to investigate who paid for the study and who pays the salaries of the researchers and what financial strings are attached and that will help you determine how good a study is along with the statistical data. Anyone who has studied statistics can tell you any study that has a statistical error of more than 3 points +/- has too great a rate of error and thus not reliable.)

Now to the meat of the matter:

The very, very fiscally conservative Swiss have a system of health insurance that allows both public and private options -- the private insurance industry is well regulated; thus, the private and public must both work well to stay competitive with one another.

Why, oh, why don't we have the same?

BECAUSE THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY OWNS THE POLITICIANS.

So, folks, when you believe that health care reform will hurt America, you have bought into the lies and fears the health insurance industry's have been spreading courtesy of their shills -- the politicians and conservative talk show hosts.

The health insurance industry does not care about you or me -- only their profits.

The American people are S.O.L.

Posted by: abbydelabbey | October 14, 2009 5:25 PM

It's quite simple to know what will happen if this bill is passed

INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL HOLD US ALL HOSTAGE TO WHATEVER PRICES THEY WANT US TO PAY - they have come out and said this already

Insurance companies do not want healthcare reform.

Insurance companies do not want to help PEOPLE.
Insurance companies want to continue to rape and pillage WORKING men women and children, the elderly and anyone else all in the name of profits.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN GENERATIONS, we will see affordable healthcare UNAVAILABLE TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICAN WORKING CLASS

For the first time in generations, we will see more and more people die prematurely. The average life expectancy WILL DECREASE even as more medical breakthroughs come about.

ONLY THE RICH WILL have healthcare and we will become the NEXT CASTE system- AMERICA- MEETS INDIA

Posted by: kare1 | October 14, 2009 5:21 PM

The morons in government have already forgotten the town hall meetings? They will be re-introduced in the 2010 elections. There will be many new faces in DC after the elections. The longer this drags on the less chance there is of passage as the 2010 elections draw nearer.

This type of liberal drek cannot cover that this is not over by a long shot.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | October 14, 2009 5:18 PM

Why is there such obsession in punditry and future prediction? If you journalists have a crystal ball, shouldn't you predict your industry's own fate?

Who knows how things will turn out?

Posted by: JoeBridgeman | October 14, 2009 5:10 PM

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