Reform debate reaches crucial stage
By Ben Pershing
For months, Senate veterans pondering when a health-care bill would pass the chamber eyed Christmas week on their calendars -- specifically Wednesday, Dec. 23 -- as the last and thus, likeliest, day for passage in 2009.
But events of the last 24 hours have put that timeline in peril, and, as the Washington Post writes, "The next 48 hours will be critical to the fate" of the package. Realistically, a deal needs to be in hand this week for the Senate to pass a bill this year. The biggest stumbling block as of this writing is Joe Lieberman, who informed Harry Reid during a face-to-face meeting Sunday that he would not vote for the bill if it includes any semblance of a public option or a Medicare buy-in for those aged 55-64. That message reiterated what Lieberman said earlier on Face the Nation: "We got to start subtracting some controversial things. ... You got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the CLASS Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will in -- in future years put us further into deficit."
The New York Times calls Lieberman's move "a surprise setback for Democratic leaders," as "the bill's supporters had said earlier that they thought they had secured Mr. Lieberman's agreement to go along with a compromise they worked out to overcome an impasse within the Democratic Party." Jonathan Cohn writes, "Whether this was a surprise, or should have been, is a matter of some dispute," as Lieberman's office claims he had signaled his discomfort all along. Roll Call similarly reports that Lieberman's office "stongly disputed" the idea that he changed his tune. Ezra Klein mocks Lieberman for having "decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to ensure the facts of the policy couldn't impede his opposition to it." Both Klein and Nate Silver theorize that Lieberman's real goal may be torturing the liberals who've attacked him over the last several years.
December 14, 2009; 11:02 AM ET
Categories: The Rundown
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