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After the summit, health endgame begins

By Ben Pershing
In the end, it is as it was in the beginning.

The morning after The Big Summit, coverage is mixed on the question of which side won and which side lost the substance and the symbolism of the debates. There is broad agreement, though, that nothing fundamental changed about the trajectory of health-care reform. Democrats have the same opinions and plans as they did before the summit, and so do Republicans.

"If there was any question about how deeply divided Republicans and Democrats are about how to reshape the American health care system, consider that they spent the first few hours of President Obama's much-anticipated health care forum on Thursday arguing over whether they were in fact deeply divided," the New York Times ledes. The Washington Post finds that "the remarkable session at Blair House ranged from dull to pointed as it revealed the deep divide between the two parties over health care. It was the same philosophical gulf that led to the collapse of bipartisan Senate negotiations last summer, and the primary reason Congress has resorted to changing the health-care system piecemeal, rather than in broad strokes, over the years." USA Today writes, "If the cold morning began with any hope that common ground might be found -- always a long shot -- the mood by the end of the day was testy and unyielding."

David Brooks thought the "event was more meaningful than" he expected and praises both sides: "Most of the credit goes to President Obama. The man really knows how to lead a discussion. ... If you thought Republicans were a bunch of naysayers who don't know or care about health care, then this was not the event for you. They more than held their own." Politico writes that "in this case, the tie goes to Republicans, according to operatives on both sides of the aisle -- because the stakes were so much higher for Democrats trying to build their case for ramming reform through using a 51-vote reconciliation tactic." Marc Ambinder says the exact same thing: "It was a wash -- and the tie goes to the Republicans." The Fix concludes: "What's clear is that the summit was not the clear win for the White House that President Obama's recent appearance at the House Republican retreat was seen as -- a fact not all that surprising given that Republicans knew they had been rocked back on their heels and were determined not to let that happen again." John Dickerson's scorecard: "President Obama won. So did congressional Republicans. Democrats in Congress need another act. This is not because Obama is such a better speaker and advocate for the legislation than his allies, though he is. It's because Democrats didn't get much political benefit from the event."

What's next? The Washington Times writes that Obama ended the summit "by vowing to pass the overhaul with or without Republicans, signaling his willingness to force the bill through Congress using controversial tactics." David Herzenhorn says, Democrats' "most viable path seemed to be an effort to attach revisions to the health care bill to a budget reconciliation measure, which the Senate could adopt by a simple majority. ... But doing so would require mustering the support of centrist Democrats in the House and the Senate who have expressed apprehensions about both the health care bill and the reconciliation process, which Republicans are portraying as an unfair parliamentary tactic to skirt the normal rules. It was unclear if the event had won over any of those votes, especially among House Democrats who opposed the bill in November, and whose support could be critical to reviving it." Time says the reconciliation route is "a big and risky bet, and the Democrats are going all-in." How this process gets covered will be crucial to its success or failure; note that the Associated Press calls reconciliation "a seldom-used Senate shortcut."

Bloomberg writes, "Almost every Republican told Obama that lawmakers should start over and draft a new bill, an idea that White House officials have ruled out. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin summed up the chance of agreement during a midday break in the more than six-hour meeting: 'It's a long shot.'" Jonathan Cohn says the GOP's message was, "Rip up the bill and start over. That's not a plea for compromise. That's a demand for capituation. And it frames the choice for Democrats pretty clearly. Either they will act alone, or they will not act at all." Ezra Klein finds that like George W. Bush, "Barack Obama has his absolutist side, too: Some arguments are right, and some are wrong. Some are legitimate, and some are not. And on health-care reform, Obama believes that his arguments are right. The basic structure of his plan is sound. The Republicans' alternatives are inadequate. The problem is too serious to entertain thoughts of inaction. Comprehensive works better than incremental. Compromise only makes sense if the other side is willing to give something up in turn. Good policy will be electorally defensible even if it's not obviously popular."

One of the key drafters of Democrats' reform plans is in trouble. "Facing potential midterm election losses and a stuck-in-the-mud legislative program, Democrats can now add to their worries the ethics problems of chief House tax writer Rep. Charles Rangel," AP writes. "The House ethics committee accused Rangel on Thursday of accepting corporate money for trips to Caribbean conferences in violation of House rules. The committee said it couldn't determine whether Rangel knew about the financing, but found that his staff did -- and concluded Rangel was responsible for learning the truth." The Hill recounts Rangel chastising a reporter for asking whether he would step down from his chairmanship, and adds "Rangel was seen Thursday evening approaching the chairwoman and ranking Republican on the Ethics committee -- Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) -- on the House floor, angrily addressing the two members and waving a finger in Lofrgen's face." The New York Post reminds that "Rangel remains under investigation by the Ethics Committee, which is conducting a wide-ranging probe into whether he failed to pay taxes on rental income from his Dominican villa, as The Post reported; whether he failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and income, also reported by The Post; and fund-raising he did for a CUNY center named for him."

Of course, Rangel isn't the only New York Democrat going through a rough patch. "Gov. David A. Paterson's administration on Thursday faced new revelations about its intervention in a domestic violence episode involving a chief aide, and growing dismay among fellow Democrats about the governor's political future," the New York Times reports. "The governor's top criminal justice adviser, Denise E. O'Donnell, resigned, saying it was 'unacceptable' that Mr. Paterson and the State Police had made contact with a woman who was seeking an order of protection against the aide, and that she could not 'in good conscience' remain in the administration. As calls grew for the governor to end his candidacy, Mr. Paterson said he would consult with party leaders over the next few days and reflect on his future." The New York Daily News writes, "His political career imploding spectacularly around him, Gov. Paterson insisted Thursday night that he's still running, but for the first time said he'll consider calls to step aside." Fred Dicker thinks "Paterson bought four more weeks in office -- at best -- by asking Andrew Cuomo to probe his involvement in a scandalous effort to intimidate a battered single mom. But when the AG's pack of former federal prosecutors finishes with Troopergate II, it'll be curtains for sure for our accidental governor."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 26, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Care , The Rundown  
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Next: Jobs agenda stalled at both ends of the Capitol

Comments

wolfpack2 That is the most absurb thing I have ever heared. You are clearly out of touch with reality. You need therapy. This is the type of garbage we as americans dont need. keep those comments at your teabagger rallies and away from normal people.

Posted by: fabianjwilson | March 1, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey, let's turn healthy people into slaves and force them to pay, pay, pay for the illegal aliens, sickos, and government worker's healthcare. Private sector workers don't deserve any of their money, or houses, or families. Let the illegals turn the U.S. into another Mexico with murders and bodies lying everywhere, or let Amandenajad nuke us, that'd be fun. Yeah, don't do anything to stop Muslims from mass murder. Democrats have such great ideas on how to destroy America and enslave working people. I love it. It's going to be just like Zombieland in five years when China pulls the plug on our economy and Obama's inflationary spending hits the fan like a stinking hunk of doo,doo. Our cities will be set on fire by the rioting poor. I especially love the way people are so apathetic that they're just going to let the Democrats rob them blind. For a good laugh, go to youtube and search Obamanator 360, my cartoon satire. mensunion.org

Posted by: wolfpack2 | February 27, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

TO SAY THAT THE REPUBS DID NOT BRING ANYTHING TO THE MEETING IS COMPLETELY FALSE. DESPITE RAISING SEVERAL VALID ISSUES THEY WERE MET WITH COMPLETE RESISTANCE. THE MEETING WAS A PLUS FOR THE REPUBS. IT ALLOWED THE PUBLIC TO SEE THAT OB AND HIS COHORTS HAVE DECIDED OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. THIS IS GREAT. ALL POLLS SHOW THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS NOT IN FAVOR OF THE DEM BILLS, YET THERE IS THE PUSH TO MOVE US FURTHER TO SOCIALISM. THESAD PART IS THAT THERE ARE MANY FIXES THAT COULD BE AGREED UPON IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE CHICAGO GANG AND PELOSI AND REID. IT IS REPORTED THAT EVEN EMANUEL HAS TOLD POTUS THAT HE SHOULD NOT BE GOING FOR THE WHOLE APPLE BUT BITE AT A TIME. BUT WHEN YOU HAVE AND EGO SUCH AS HIS, HE IS NEVER WRONG. THIS FROM A GUY WITH LESS EXPERIENCE IN GOVERNING THAN PALIN.

Posted by: MALBENNET | February 27, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

TO SAY THAT THE REPUBS DID NOT BRING ANYTHING TO THE MEETING IS COMPLETELY FALSE. DESPITE RAISING SEVERAL VALID ISSUES THEY WERE MET WITH COMPLETE RESISTANCE. THE MEETING WAS A PLUS FOR THE REPUBS. IT ALLOWED THE PUBLIC TO SEE THAT OB AND HIS COHORTS HAVE DECIDED OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. THIS IS GREAT. ALL POLLS SHOW THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS NOT IN FAVOR OF THE DEM BILLS, YET THERE IS THE PUSH TO MOVE US FURTHER TO SOCIALISM. THESAD PART IS THAT THERE ARE MANY FIXES THAT COULD BE AGREED UPON IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE CHICAGO GANG AND PELOSI AND REID. IT IS REPORTED THAT EVEN EMANUEL HAS TOLD POTUS THAT HE SHOULD NOT BE GOING FOR THE WHOLE APPLE BUT BITE AT A TIME. BUT WHEN YOU HAVE AND EGO SUCH AS HIS, HE IS NEVER WRONG. THIS FROM A GUY WITH LESS EXPERIENCE IN GOVERNING THAN PALIN.

Posted by: MALBENNET | February 27, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @ http://armchairfirebrand.wordpress.com/

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 27, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @ http://armchairfirebrand.wordpress.com/

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 27, 2010 5:35 AM | Report abuse

Obama and his Social Democrat Party absolutely MUST use every hook and crook to push the current bill through even if they lose both the House and Senate, any hope for an Obama reelection, destroy the rules of the Senate forever by having de facto employed the nuclear option, and suffer the losses from Republicans destroying the entire rest of the Social Democrat agenda for the rest of the year, because the current bill contains one single element that will most assuredly be missing from any other bill they might get passed.

This requirement is the mandatory universal participation that has kept Social Security alive for 70 years. FDR's team had it right. If you extort contributions (taxes) from people for their entire lives, they have every right to expect a return on their "investment" and will be damned if the government that committed the extortion is allowed to renege even though it is their fellow citizens who must suffer ever increasing extortion to make their SS payments.

Government takeover of the health care industry is the key to the successful transition of America to the social democratic state the left has dreamed of since FDR and the raison d’etre of the Obama administration. To fail here is to fail to foist socialism upon America for yet another generation. Only gutlessness and an addiction to remaining in office can avoid the use of the nuclear option.

Posted by: RUKidding0 | February 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

First I will give my thoughts on what should be done. Since we have a stand still on rewrithing the entire heathcare system, why not just try and fix whats wrong instead of trying to overhaul the whole thing? As everyone can see there are two sides on how to overhaul the whole thing. But when you look at whats wrong with what we have now it dosn't take much to know what works and what doesn't. Why not focus on what is wrong and just try fixing the broken parts instead of trying to rebuild from the ground up?

Second, there are two main partys that make up the government. these two partys represent how america feels and believes. Both partys need each other as a way to bring differant ideas and views on how we should run this country. What I saw at this summit was two partys that can't agree. This has been the way it has always been done and it will conintue this way. Whats differant about this time is I saw one party say that we are going to do it with you or without you. Whats gets me is that since these partys do represent the people this party that wants to go along is saying to half the country that we don't care about what you feel or think we are going to do what we want. That my friends is wrong to the core.

Posted by: rainman2 | February 26, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama's quest for bipartisan solutions to
this country's problems obviously has come
to a screeching halt. The pubs have no
agenda except derrision, loudly and
clearly carrying on THEIR one and only
mission of derailing any policy coming from the President. It matters not what the
needs of the people are, so--- it's time
for the kid gloves to come off at last, and
time for the dems to use the process so
aptly used by the pubs, the dreaded--oh no-
not reconcilliation!!! It was hunky-dory
for them to use it, but MY GOD--not the
dems!!!!!!! If you think President Obama
has been audacious so far, you ain't seen
nothin' yet. He's had enough, let them take their little red wagons and go home.
WE will finally see this good man at work,
FOR US!! Oh, thanks pubs, for showing your
true colors, you successfully wasted the last year, that's what you do best.

Posted by: patriotgmalou | February 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Obama called for the summit to cover his rear when he resorts to dirty tactics to pass his health program. He feels he is right and will not allow anyone to differ from him. When a republican brought the bill and Obama's rewrite to the meeting he openly criticised him for not having an open mind to Obama's ideas. Yeah I know those were not his words, but that it what he meant. I pray the centrist Democrats remember this is an election year and refuse to back his back door attempt to pass this mess. Note: part of this bill do not take effect until 8 years from now when O is out of office.

Posted by: billsailer | February 26, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The bottom line is that the summit accomplished little legislatively, but it did frame the arguments of both sides in the clearest terms possible.

Obama and the Dems are accusing the Republicans of siding with the insurance companies and ignoring the uninsured and those struggling with bills. The GOP still insists this is a government takeover and that taxes and premiums are going up, despite what the CBO says.

It's up to Americans to decide who is right.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 26, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

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