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What's the deadline for health reform?

By Ben Pershing
"If you don't set a deadline in this town, nothing happens," President Obama said last July, and John Dickerson later noted that Obama "has a professor's fondness for deadlines and a writer's lack of respect for them." So it makes sense that the White House appeared to set a deadline for completion of health care Thursday and then revise it the same day.

Early in the day, Robert Gibbs said Obama wanted to get "something done" before his March 18 departure for Indonesia and Australia. Gibbs later clarified that the president simply hoped the House could pass the Senate bill by then, with the heavy lift of reconciliation coming after. The Washington Post says Gibbs "urged lawmakers on Thursday to make substantial progress on his health-care plan before he leaves on a foreign trip in mid-March." But the Associated Press reports that House Democratic leaders "conceded Thursday they may not meet President Barack Obama's challenge for swift action. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the Democrats would like to get a final vote by Congress' Easter break, which begins March 29. But he also said 'the world doesn't fall apart' if that timeline isn't met -- a nod to the many missed deadlines that have characterized the health overhaul effort so far." Whatever the deadline, Marc Ambinder says: "It was a perfect storm that nearly killed health care reform in Congress last year -- an elongated process, weak leadership from the White House, strong Republican opposition and the election of Scott Brown. But now, with no perceptible change to the political landscape, the chances of major legislation passing are greater today than they've been in two months."

USA Today writes: "Some oppose abortion, some are worried about premiums, and some have zeroed in on taxes. But House Democrats do have this in common: They're all being heavily courted to support President Obama's health care legislation. ... A day after vowing to do "everything in my power" to pass the $950 billion, 10-year health care package, Obama ramped up his efforts by meeting with more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers Thursday who could be key to the debate, including two who voted against a similar bill last year." The New York Times says Obama met with "liberals and members of the various minority caucuses, many of whom are uncomfortable with the bill because it lacks a 'public option,' or government-backed insurance plan; and leaders of the centrist New Democrat Coalition. He told the liberals that a public option would never pass the Senate, but said he would be 'personally committed' to pursuing it once the current bill became law." GOP opposition remains unanimous, and Charles Krauthammer complains: "The man who ran as a post-partisan is determined to remake a sixth of the U.S. economy despite the absence of support from a single Republican in either house, the first time anything of this size and scope has been enacted by pure party-line vote. Surprised? You can only be disillusioned if you were once illusioned."

Abortion remains the most divisive issue in the House. "House leaders are facing the possible defection of about a dozen anti-abortion Democrats from a health-care bill just as lawmakers enter their final push for the landmark legislation in Congress," Bloomberg reports, adding: "Abortion policy has delayed -- or killed outright -- past legislation ranging from a rewrite of bankruptcy law to foreign aid and military spending measures. To avoid that fate last year, Democratic leaders in both chambers let anti-abortion lawmakers attach tougher restrictions to the health legislation, President Barack Obama's top domestic priority." The Washington Post says Democratic leaders"are embarking on a delicate strategy to win over abortion opponents, a gambit that could determine whether the legislation becomes law. The effort depends on convincing as many as a dozen antiabortion Democrats in the House that abortion language in the Senate bill is more stringent than initially portrayed. But Democratic leaders must be careful that they don't drive away abortion rights supporters who are increasingly concerned that the measure would prove severely restrictive." The Hill notes that Hoyer "said Thursday that lawmakers could draft separate pieces of legislation with abortion language to earn the support of anti-abortion rights Democrats on healthcare reform legislation."

House Democrats weren't the only guests at the White House Thursday. "Obama dropped in on a meeting among HHS Sec. Sebelius and five chief executives of the nation's largest insurance companies today to read them a letter he received from a woman who saw her premiums increase 40 percent this year," Politico reports, adding that "a meeting that had the potential for some explosive fireworks was a hum drum affair with 'constructive dialogue' as its watchword, according to participants. The meeting called the heads of Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Cigna and Health Care Service to the White House, which has become the epicenter of anti-insurer sentiment in Washington these past few weeks. Indeed, even the meeting itself was Sebelius' attempt to force the insurers to justify their double-digit premium hikes. But there was no showdown and politics didn't play much of a role in the discussion, participants said." The Wall Street Journal says Sebelius "summoned health-insurance chief executives to the White House Thursday and told them they need to disclose more data justifying sharp premium increases. The dressing-down, part of which was televised, was part of a campaign by the White House to build support for its health overhaul." Ezra Klein writes on an investment bank's finding that insurer Wellpoint "would be a primary beneficiary" if the reform effort fails.

Politico provides a list of "Ten people who could decide health care reform." Speaking of which, one of the key House committees on health care has a new leader today. The Wall Street Journal writes: "Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), an architect of Democratic trade policies who has close ties to labor unions, on Thursday was named House Ways and Means Committee chairman, the post formerly held by Rep. Charles Rangel (D. N.Y.). Mr. Levin took the helm after Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.) declined the chairman's gavel under pressure from fellow Democrats. Mr. Stark was next in line for the post according to House seniority rules." As The Hill observes, "Democrats on Thursday said ... Stark's personality made it impossible for him to serve as Ways and Means chairman. ... 'Stark was a non-starter for about 95 percent of this caucus,' one Democrat said. 'And it's not about ethics or California or anything else. It's about Stark. He doesn't respect other members or have the respect of other members.'" Roll Call says Chris Van Hollen and Xavier Becerra "made the case to Stark that he would be an inviting target for Republicans and a distraction for politically endangered Democrats if he assumed control."

Joe Conason thinks Rangel's "humiliation stands as a mark of ethical consistency for liberals and Democrats. ... Yet as the Republicans and their media epigones celebrate Rangel's downfall, the contrast with their own typical tolerance of corruption in their own ranks is instructive." Wrapping together the scandals surrounding Rangel, David Paterson and Eric Massa, The New York Times writes that "the ethical woes facing Democrats are piling up, with barely a day passing in recent weeks without headlines from Washington to New York and beyond filled with word of scandal or allegations of wrongdoing." Time says "the synchronized setbacks of two longtime Harlem leaders have prompted a flurry of obituaries for the Harlem dynasty, which for decades has been the unquestioned nerve center of black politics in the U.S." Paterson's communications director quit Thursday, and his entire staff is gathering for a meeting Friday afternoon.

The administration remains vexed by the question of how to handle terrorism suspects. "In a potential reversal, White House advisers are close to recommending that President Barack Obama opt for military tribunals for self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four of his alleged henchman, senior officials said," AP reports, adding: "The review of where and how to hold a Sept. 11 trial is not over, so no recommendation is yet before the president and Obama has not made a determination of his own, officials said. The review is not likely to be finished this week." The Washington Post says "the president's advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. ... If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States. The administration has failed to meet a self-imposed one-year deadline to close Guantanamo." Politico notes that "civil liberties and human rights advocates are expressing dismay" at the reports of a White House shift.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 5, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Care , The Rundown  
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Comments

The last time the insurance companies (through their lackeys, Congressional Republicans and spineless Democrats)killed health care reform was when Clinton was President. Since then, they have been emboldened to charge more and more for less and less service, denied coverage, dropped members, and in general raped American citizens and businesses. The only "solution" offered by the Republicans was to "privatize" Medicare, which has only pushed the program closer to insolvency. Medicare Plus plans are corporate welfare defined. The 2003 "Part D" drug plan was even better...it gives corporate welfare to the drug companies as well. If the insurance companies (using YOUR premium dollars) manage to scare the public and our representatives into killing health care reform this time, they will only be further emboldened and extend further their destruction of the American economy. Wake up, people!

Posted by: geodude | March 8, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

People keep forgetting that this bill taxes for 10 years and provides services only six years. What a great way to get the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to say that the bill was "budget neutral." that it would not add to the deficit. It is "paid for" by taking $500 BILLION out of Medicare --- which is going to be broke under current legislation in about eight years --- and raising taxes about $500 billiion. .............WAKE UP SENIORS, this BILL will wreck a good program thaT needs adjusting, not robbing it of $500 BILLION. Fact is, this bill will cost about $1 TRILLION and will add that much to our deficit the second 10 years.

Posted by: RonKH | March 8, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Obama is doing all in his power to pass his healthcare bill that the vast "American Taxpayers" do not want.....from "buyouts and promises" fellow Democrats in Congress to creating his own lobbying/propaganda groups.

The Obama Admin think that the American taxpayers are stupid and uneducated people incapable of thought, feelings and decisions, that we are just workanimals that run their world as they see fit.

We cried out for HealthCare reform to stems the raising healthcare costs, they give us "mandatory must pay bill" that promises to lower our quality of care, with a tag price to kill babies in American and abroad, the hell with Hyde Amendment.

We cryout for lower cost of living,
1. they give us Cap and Trade
2. and "economic stimulus bill" that paid to close the San Joaquin Valley water canals to millions of acres of farmlands
3. and saturate us will more illegal aliens and entitlements.

We cried out for security and they give us the bill to "defend and protect our terrorists"


American Taxpayers must keep striving for our Freedom and Liberty from people like Obama, Democrat Party and Obama czars.

Posted by: happyday3 | March 7, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

FREEDOMJOURNAL REVELATION SERIES

LOOKING PAST 2050 AND HEALTH CARE REFORM
(5 March 2010)

Greetings Brethren,

Peace be unto you. What will the scribes write now and later about health issues, basic human understanding and compassion? The footstools of the righteous littered the streets and byways. They (fools and fool-stools) also filled up the foul ditches dug by the unloved. Meanwhile there will always be a good report in the final analysis for those chosen by God. There was once a time when a man was called and sent to lead a great nation. This great nation impacted greatly on the entire earth and its people. Standing tall as a great oak he weathered every storm however some doubted his impact as they fell down in shame as the record keepers now and later would report.

Partisanship, Party Politics, Platforms vs. Human Compassion for the Poor & Middle-Class

One day looking like Isaiah I saw
a vision of love and compassion
descending as the angels that filled
the Temple.

I heard them sing praises of God’s
goodness to all that He created.
Here was no respecter of persons.
All could live and eat.

The clinics the hospitals belonged to
the people. No one was shut out and
no doors were closed because of race,
money, fame or fortune.

Gradually the angels flew in respect
and in humility as they continued to
sing praises of the king. However so
many people wanted to re-order these steps.

But, this would and will not happen.
It is for certain that love can still exist among
those confused in malice. Although the
world as we see it will end God will not allow,

It to degenerate to a hell upon His green
pastures and His still waters. These were
still the days when we saw some men just
stand in the way of love for the hell of it.

The paddles and oars changed in mid-stream.
One man stood in opposition just because the
door opened for the poor and those a pay
check away from poverty.

Can one be homesick and also homeless?
Another stood up because someone said the
poor are never right. Cannon fodder they
might, because they always carried the fight.

Meanwhile John wrote all this down.
What will be the sins of the ancestors of
the greedy in 2050? The record will show
that God sanctions love He also thrives on
compassion.

Peace and Paradise,
Dr. Carl A. Patton writing for the FreedomJournal Press 5 March 2010 in the year of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

Posted by: carlapattonFreedomJournal | March 6, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

If health care reform does not pass this year, it may never pass. The perception will be that we cannot do it, that the American people do not have the will to face down the insurance companies. There are going to be many things that need to be changed in this legislation and that can be addressed later by congress. But to stop now after bills have already passed both houses would be a disservice to the country and the American people.

Posted by: seemstome | March 6, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The President's message is: "Hurry! Pass this bill as fast as you can before more people find out what is actually in it!" If the bill passes, you will face fines and/or jail time unless you buy health insurance with not a $1 million dollar or $10 million dollar lifetime limit but an UNLIMITED lifetime insurance policy payout. You know that is going to cost a lot more than your current policy. "Ah yes, but the government will pay for it if I can't pay for it," you say. Sure. And as budget priorities, rising deficits, and paygo rules take affect, their version of "afford" is not going to look much like reality. The supposed reason why the health care bill is so urgent is that health care costs are rising. Yet the bill will make costs rise much faster than if Congress did nothing. Obama knows it and hopes it passes before you figure it out.

Posted by: sam38 | March 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Did you here the one about the guys wife that killed all of his children because she wanted to make more room for the home invaders?

Oh what. It wasn't his wife. It was his country.

Back in the 60’s the Federal Government came into the public schools and brainwashed us as little children with the message that the children we were about to have were unwanted because the population was rising so fast. They launched a program called, “Zero Population Growth”. They pushed Family Planning and birth control pills. Now they call the same programs, "Safe Sex" but the results are the same. I think you and I both know that you only have to trick people for their few child bearing years and there is no going back.

Many of us never had a say in the future of our unborn.

I am the result of two living cells. One from each of my parents. They are the result of two living cells, one from each of their parents. I wasn't just born. I am a continuation of life. I am a living thing that reaches back into time perhaps 400 million years and the result of billions of joining of pairs of cells. It is possible that if you were to follow my cells back to my parent’s cells and beyond that my family tree touches every living thing here on earth. That is if we limit ourselves to believing life was created here on earth. If it rained down from the immensity of the universe it could reach back into that immensity of time and space, and who knows what relationships and who knows what species.

My family line succeeded, at least until I came up against the Federal Government.

I have seen the Federal Government do little else to control the population.

The open border, United States laws only apply to some, is a serious slap in the face. No, not a slap in the face. It reaches well beyond that. Maybe back to the beginning of time and stretch to the bounds of the universe.

Posted by: Stokeybob | March 5, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

This bill is not reform and the president and congress know it full well. When they get serious about addressing the root causes of why insurance premiums cost so much and why actual health care itself is so outrageously expensive, I might think they have our best interests at heart. Yes, we need to have portability; to ensure that people can obtain affordable coverage and that they are not arbitrarily dropped from coverage; to ensure there is access to doctors, hospitals, clinics at affordable costs; establish tort reform. We need to get the $150 box of cheap tissues, the $50 aspirin tablet and the like under control. We need to get the ambulance chasers out of the picture. When they address these issues and others like them, I might be inclined to support them. Until then, I'll continue to hold them in the low regard in which I now view them. They do not deserve my respect.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | March 5, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

MR. PRESIDENT, CONGRESS: "First, Do No Harm."

RESTORE CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS -- END BUSH-ERA PROGRAMS OF COVERT HIGH-TECH TORTURE AND POLICE STATE VIGILANTE TERRORISM.


HOMELAND-RUN CELL TOWER MICROWAVE WEAPON SYSTEM ATTACKS, TORTURES, IMPAIRS 'TARGETED' AMERICANS: VETERAN JOURNALIST

• Why so many cell towers saturate the American landscape -- urban and rural.

• Weapon system patents reveal silent, powerful attack system in YOUR backyard.

• American human rights atrocities, ideological purge, under the cover of national security.

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves

OR: poynter.org/subject.asp?id=2 (see articles list)

NOW IT'S OBAMA'S GESTAPO USA. WHEN WILL TEAM OBAMA ACT?

• Reporter exposing gov't cell tower microwave torture held hostage to community stalking, police-protected, GPS-equipped vigilante squads that burglarize, vandalize and terrorize -- officially-enabled lawlessness that afflicts many thousands of other unconstitutionally targeted and persecuted Americans.

BUCKS COUNTY, PA- BASED MAGLOCLEN FUSION CENTER: "GROUND ZERO OF A MID-ATLANTIC STATES AMERICAN GESTAPO."

WHY WON'T THE FBI OPEN A DOJ / CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION INVESTIGATION -- AS REPEATEDLY REQUESTED?

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

OR NowPublic.com/scrivener (see "stories" list)

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 5, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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