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No conference committee for health care?

obamareidpelosi.JPG

Jon Cohn reports that Democrats may forgo a formal conference committee merging the Senate and House health bills in order to evade Republican obstruction of the motions that would be needed to begin a conference committee. This will be billed a health-care story, but like a lot of things these days, it's really a Senate story.

Conference committee is a good process. It comes after the two chambers have passed their bills. It allows both Democrats and Republicans to take a couple of weeks and talk through the finer points of the legislation in a less intense and polarized environment. It often results in useful technical fixes, policy tweaks, and syntheses. It's a chance to get the legislation out from under the klieg lights so legislators can try and get it a little more right before actually passing it into law.

Democrats will still have that chance, as they'll hand packages of amendments back-and-forth in order to merge the two bills into one piece of legislation that both chambers can pass. But like the budget reconciliation process or the entitlements commission, this is another example of polarization and obstruction forcing the majority party to take the scenic route when the highway would be better. The product of a Congress that doesn't work isn't simply that things don't get done, but that many of the things that do get done are passed through strange processes that lead to worse legislation.

The reconciliation process is a prime example of that. Next year, George W. Bush's tax cuts simply expire -- and that's not because Republicans want them to expire. It's because they were passed through reconciliation, and so couldn't increase the deficit outside the 10-year budget window. That's a dumb way to do legislation, as it's meant no one quite knows what the tax system looks like in 2012. If health care had used reconciliation, a fair amount of the bill would've been lopped off in an unpredictable process that had everything to do with the Byrd Rule and nothing to do with making a better health-care bill.

Similarly, eschewing conference committee might give Republicans fewer opportunities for obstruction, but it will also give them fewer opportunities to be heard when voicing legitimate concerns and critiques about the workings of the legislation. That means some potentially useful objections will fall by the wayside. The obstruction won't mean health care doesn't get done. It will just mean it gets done worse.

Photo credit: By J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  January 4, 2010; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

Fine. I'll give them a conference committee if they pledge not to move to recommit in the House or force three more cloture votes in the Senate. Let me know what they say...

Posted by: andrewlong | January 4, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if that's true in this case. Even without a conference committee, if Olympia Snowe called up Harry Reid and said she'd vote for the final bill if it includes a certain change I'm sure that change would end up in the bill. But of course no Republican will actually commit to voting for the final bill no matter what, so it's their fault they're shut out.
By the way, can the appointment of members of a conference committee really be filibustered? Or is there some other delaying tactic involved that requires avoiding the formation of a committee?

Posted by: _SP_ | January 4, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It's not like Republicans haven't already been given plenty of opportunity to provide useful input into the process, but when their willingness to crtiquing the legislation extends only to "No" and that's it, why shouldn't Dems work on this by themselves? It's apparent that you have a choice, send this to the conference committees as you suggest and have the whole process come to a screeching halt, or look for alternatives that can at least get the legislation moving.

Posted by: PeterPamZ | January 4, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

When the White House and Nancy Pelosi get together with Harry Reid to discuss how to go forward reconciling the House and Senate versions of HCR, do you think Harry Reid is embarrassed? They must discuss the realities of the Senate and the broken process. What does Reid say? Does he apologize or act like he has no agency in the matter?

Posted by: MyrtleParker | January 4, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Ezra . . . Are you serious? . . . The process will have some Republican "potentially useful objections fall by the wayside."

Such as? Elimination of death panels? Preventing "Obamacare" from "socializing the entire health care industry in the U.S.?" Preventing the increase of our national debt by 2.5 Trillion? . . . The GOP has one interest - to prevent the Democrats from doing anything substantial to address our nation's problems - to give GOP candidates a better chance to win elections in this year and in 2012.

Posted by: WisconsinReader | January 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"The product of a Congress that doesn't work isn't simply that things don't get done, but that many of the things that do get done are passed through strange processes that lead to worse legislation. "

It is soooo hard for Ezra to be critical of the Dems!

"It's not like Republicans haven't already been given plenty of opportunity to provide useful input into the process, but when their willingness to crtiquing the legislation extends only to "No" and that's it, why shouldn't Dems work on this by themselves?"

What if they have been trying to provide useful input but the Dems are just saying "no" to the input from the repubs?

Posted by: Holla26 | January 4, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

So, in a nutshell...democratic procedures will be ignored for a socialistic agenda. Seems about right for this bunch. Of course Obama hired the first transgender to a post proving that in order to be a good democrat you need to be neutered.

Posted by: zendrell | January 4, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

zendrell - you seem to have missed the part where the Republicans lost the House, the Senate, and the White House in the last two elections. Democrats have sizeable majorities in both houses of Congress and they hold the White House. What part of "majority rules" is not democratic?

Posted by: tl_houston | January 4, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The republicans rewrote the legislation playbook and now they should shut up and live by it, or act to change it by working cooperatively. They set the tone for legislating and they are seeing it continue. IF they want to go back to normal governance they should start acting like they are representatives of their constituents and not simply members of a party of NO.

I see no reason for the democrats to allow the republicans to continue their obstructionism which they have clearly displayed. The democrats made overtures early on and were slapped in return. All of this is due to republican actions. Its why they continue to shrink as a party and continue to wander in the wilderness. When they actually have an idea they should let America know.

Posted by: Fate1 | January 4, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"The obstruction won't mean health care doesn't get done. It will just mean it gets done worse."


how could it possibly get done worse than what has already occurred and the resulting products?

sadly, I'm sure I will be able to answer in great detail my own question in about two weeks time...

Posted by: teoc2 | January 4, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - garbage in - garbage out. The fact that the dems had to sweetie the 'deal' in so many ways for some of its senators tells you - its not a good bill. We can only hope we can reverse this debacle come 2010.....we already cant afford the other entitlements...ah nice - but lets pass out some more freebies..otherwise - how do you retain you base?

Posted by: short1 | January 4, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

pulling the plug on the conference committee process is the surest way to make the 2010 elections the vehicle for the largest congressional freshman class EVER.

Posted by: yesnomaybe213 | January 4, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"Similarly, eschewing conference committee might give Republicans fewer opportunities for obstruction, but it will also give them fewer opportunities to be heard when voicing legitimate concerns and critiques about the workings of the legislation."

Haha, good one Ezra!

Posted by: Chris_O | January 4, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@bourassa1

bourassa1 wrote: "all other first-world health systems cost far less than America's does."

False. Don't confuse health care spending with health care cost. Example:

If you develop a bad headache, and you live in Country A in which dozens of companies who own hundreds of MRI machines make them available to paying customers, and technicians well qualified to run and service them are employed, and doctors who specialize in reading the scans are in business, you may very well get an MRI scan of your head.

Nominal Cost for your scan in Country A: $800 (for example.)


*****
If you develop a bad headache, and you live in Country B in which the federal government has imposed socialized medicine and seized ownership of most MRI machines, and investors have chosen not to invest more money in new MRI technology because the government won't pay them the returns they want, and technicians well qualified to run and service them are few and far between because the government controls the number and salary of such technicians; and parts for those MRI machines are on a 6-month back order status because your government pays only $45 per replacement part ("to keep costs down") but private companies in other countries pay $95 per replacement part, so the company that manufactures those replacement parts sells to the $95 buyers first, and only to the $45 buyers if there are any parts left over; and most doctors who specialize in reading the MRI scans have retired from practice because your government capped their salaries, you may very well NOT get an MRI of your head.


Nominal Cost for your scan in Country B: $0 (because you didn't get the scan.)


And then leftists like yourself look at the accumulated costs for thousands of these situations nationwide, and see that Country A spends 25% of its GDP on healthcare, and Country B spends 11% of its GDP on healthcare.

And economic ignorance leads these leftists to conclude that "Country B has a better system because they spend less."

And incidentally, you pass away 11 months later of a type of brain cancer that happens to be particularly easy to diagnose (and which responds very well to treatment in 85% of cases if caught early enough) with an MRI scan.

Socialized medicine's cost to you: your life.

Whoops.


______________

Economics Ignorance Kills™ (read Russian & German 20th cent. history.)

Don't support socialism. Don't be an economics imbecile.

http://healthcare.cato.org/


Posted by: tommyhendricks | January 4, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

WisconsinReader: it's hard to follow your comment. There are, of course, no death panels, never were, just a flat out lie. There is no socialization of anything. You must buy health insurance just like you must buy auto insurance and for much the same reason, only we will subsidize it for those who can't afford it, rather than have the middle class subsidize the bad debts that currently are run up and passed on to those who pay premiums now. And the deficit will be reduced as compared with what would happen if we did nothing, which is the only valid comparison.

Holla26: The republican input has by and large been the lies mentioned above. Worse yet, they are secretly for most of what's in the bill now, especially with the public option gone. Which is what explains the hospital, pharmaceutical, insurance and physician industries being in favor of the bill, which would ordinarily lead you to suspect that republicans wrote the thing, not democrats

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 4, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

False. Don't confuse health care spending with health care cost. Example:

If you develop a bad headache, and you live in Country A in which dozens of companies who own hundreds of MRI machines make them available to paying customers, and technicians well qualified to run and service them are employed, and doctors who specialize in reading the scans are in business, you may very well get an MRI scan of your head.

Nominal Cost for your scan in Country A: $800 (for example.)


*****
If you develop a bad headache, and you live in Country B in which the federal government has imposed socialized medicine and seized ownership of most MRI machines, and investors have chosen not to invest more money in new MRI technology because the government won't pay them the returns they want, and technicians well qualified to run and service them are few and far between because the government controls the number and salary of such technicians; and parts for those MRI machines are on a 6-month back order status because your government pays only $45 per replacement part ("to keep costs down") but private companies in other countries pay $95 per replacement part, so the company that manufactures those replacement parts sells to the $95 buyers first, and only to the $45 buyers if there are any parts left over; and most doctors who specialize in reading the MRI scans have retired from practice because your government capped their salaries, you may very well NOT get an MRI of your head.


Nominal Cost for your scan in Country B: $0 (because you didn't get the scan.)


And then leftists like yourself look at the accumulated costs for thousands of these situations nationwide, and see that Country A spends 25% of its GDP on healthcare, and Country B spends 11% of its GDP on healthcare.

And economic ignorance leads these leftists to conclude that "Country B has a better system because they spend less."

And incidentally, you pass away 11 months later of a type of brain cancer that happens to be particularly easy to diagnose (and which responds very well to treatment in 85% of cases if caught early enough) with an MRI scan.

#######################################

The trouble is that your example is sheer speculation and not based on any fact. The fact is that citizens of other countries such as Japan, Britain, Switzerland, and Germany are healthier than us, and live longer than us.

Posted by: maggots | January 4, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The republicans already demonized the part of the bill that requires medicare to pay for end of life consultations by calling it a death-panel, knowing it was nothing of the sort. Who wants to play ball with people who want to own the ball, lie about how the game is played, make up the rules as they go along and are unwilling to compromise with the other team? Even children don't invite kids like that to play, why should the democrats?

When the republicans actually want to participate in governing they should let someone know, otherwise they should not be surprised when tactics for shutting out the minority are used against them. After all, they invented the methods the democrats are using.

Posted by: Fate1 | January 4, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

tommyhendricks: you are why healthcare costs are out of control. you think everyone should get an MRI for a hangnail, especially when ordered by a doc who bought an MRI machine so he could bill for doing the test, not just reading it.

we already know that docs who own MRI machines mysteriously think they are necessary about three times as often as those who are just practicing medicine the way they were taught.

I would like country C, where docs who don't own the machines order them where the best science available suggests that it's medically appropriate.

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 4, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

tommyhendrics: maggots is, of course, correct. the proof of the pudding is in the actual health status data, which shows that our supposedly awesome system sucks when it comes to results.

similarly, the data showing the absurd variations in per capita spending from place to place, explained simply by where the docs have decided to practice medicine for the buck or for the science, with better outcomes in the latter, not the former.

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 4, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

tommyhendricks wrote...
Don't support socialism. Don't be an economics imbecile.

--------------------------------

Well, then, I suppose that it's good thing that the healthcare reform under discussion doesn't approach being socialism. One-sided forecasts of could/might/will happen once the legislation is passed don't make it socialized medicine, either. The chance that the government, as a result of this legislation in whatever form it passes, ends up eliminating the private health care industry, approaches zero. Could it happen? Sure. We could also be fried by lasers fired by aliens in orbit, but I wouldn't put any money on it.

You don't like what's in the healthcare bills. I get that. I have concerns as well, that the compromises being made will destroy the essence of what the effort was meant to accomplish. But, the healthcare system is out of control and the industry shows no desire to control its costs to its customers. I don't know whether government intervention will solve the problem, but I'm sure that doing nothing is not the solution.

Disagreeing with your premise doesn't make anyone an "economic imbecile" or a supporter of socialism.

Posted by: RGee1 | January 4, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

You dummies still spouting off about socialsm and death panels? Are you serious or just trying to make people laugh at you? And just what part of the CBO estimates that sya the bills, either of them, will reduce the federal deficit do you take to mean "increase the federal deficit?" If republicons have nothing to add, and really have shown their hand as being obstruct as long as possible to make this into a bloodbath, then f'em. Why invite them to the party if they already told you they just want to pea in the punch?

Posted by: John1263 | January 4, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

@maggots and JoeT1

"The trouble is that your example is sheer speculation and not based on any fact. The fact is that citizens of other countries such as Japan, Britain, Switzerland, and Germany are healthier than us, and live longer than us."

False.

Foreign Countries Offer Little in the Way of Univeral Care
___________________________________________

While bemoaning the rate of uninsurance and high costs in the U.S., "change" advocates neglect to mention that out-of- pocket spending in the U.S. (13%) is lower than in any of the 20 OECD countries except France (7%), Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. OOP spending is 15% in Canada; the OECD average is 20%. Reformers do not like decreasing demand through deductibles and other OOP costs; they prefer to increase revenues by forcing many individuals to pay, through premiums, for more services than they are expected to use.

The number one foreign model, according to the vaunted World Health Organization (WHO) rankings that placed the U.S. 37th, is France, with a claimed per capita spending of $2,885 vs. $5,783 in the U.S. The WHO report was roundly criticized for not taking into account what the French pay in taxes to finance their health care system, nor how far in debt the system has become. WHO stopped doing the ratings in 2000 when the results of preliminary comparisons showed massive cost overruns in the French system. A 2004 WHO bulletin reported that problems became increasingly apparent when 15,000 Frenchmen died in a heat wave, dwarfing the number in neighboring countries.

The French refuse to pay any health care costs for illegal aliens. The U.S. pays billions.

Copayments have been increased to 30%-40% to try to control costs, yet the WHO ignored those increases.

About 85% of Frenchmen purchase private supplemental insurance (Dattilo and Racer, Your Health Matters), despite nominal "universal care." The French system now teeters on the brink of collapse.


The most mature system of "social solidarity" in Germany is beset with runaway costs. Massive government regulation is attempting to increase quality (ibid.), yet costs continue to rise. Free market reforms are the only trial solutions that have shown any cost reduction and quality control.

Japan spends about as much as France, yet enjoys the world's longest life expectancy and a very low infant mortality of 3.3 per 1,000 live births. Though Japan has had a form of national health insurance since 1927, it is seldom cited as an example by reformers, for several reasons.

Copayments in Japan are as high as 30%, while in the U.S. they are a fraction of that amount.

Prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care are not covered; nearly all policies in the U.S. cover these expenses.

Potential exposure for costs is up to 50% of income (ibid.).

Single-payer advocates don't like to talk about Canada, although it is the only country outside of North Korea that does not allow a parallel private system.

Despite substantial increases in spending, wait times are 45% longer than in 1997. In the red by $1.5 billion, Alberta Health Services is placing tight restrictions on hiring of nurses, and cancelling 15% of elective procedures.

Cataract surgery is available only patients who are nearly blind (Calgary Herald 5/09).

Reform in Massachusetts is moving in the Canadian direction. Even though Massachusetts has more physicians per capita than any other state, Boston has the longest waiting times for a physician appointment: 49.6 days average wait time for 5 specialties in Boston, compared to an average of 20.5 days and a low of 11.2 days for Atlanta (Merritt Hawkins, 2009).


What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.

The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs.

With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed.

The public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854

Only an imbecile waits until we're at 100% Socialism to say "Hey, isn't this kinda socialism?"

With this bill we're now at 40% socialism and headed toward 100% at mach two with our hair on fire. Soon we'll hit a tipping point, and there'll be no going back.

How much more before you say "Enough!" ?


Get The Facts, Fast:

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/series26.aspx

http://healthcare.cato.org/

http://mises.org/story/3428

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/a_real_free_market_health_care_1.html

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10201


Posted by: tommyhendricks | January 4, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

To both maggots & TommyHendricks:

In country "B", if I get strep throat, I go to consult the chemist, not the M.D., and pay $8 for some antibiotics.
====================
In country "A", I set up an appointment, pay the $80 fee for 10 minutes of attention, $35 for the strep screen, and a $10 copay for the antibiotics (my Rx insurer pays another $10).
Lacking an physician or the resources to obtain care, I go to the E.R. and add about $200 to the cost of that sore throat.

Really.

Meanwhile, to EK:
I can't decide whether to appreciate you making an effort at being even-handed/less partisan than you typically are, or to be cynical and see the shades of innuendo in your undeterred ardor for this monstrous piece of legislation. I'll have to reserve judgement until I see your next unequivocal position.

Posted by: OttoDog | January 4, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

You surely sound like the holiday season menu was overwhelming - for digestion.

GOP is bent on repealing the bill even if it gets enacted. SO why do you think it'd be better to go thru committe?

Posted by: hariknaidu | January 4, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The manager’s amendment would lower the threshold for Medicare spending growth that would trigger recommendations for spending reductions by the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Such recommendations would be required, in the legislation as originally proposed, if projected growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary exceeded the rate of increase in national health expenditures per capita—and in the legislation incorporating the manager’s amendment, if it exceeded the rate of increase in GDP plus 1 percentage point.

What kind of reccomendations does the Independent Payment Advisory Board make to reduce spending for Medicare?

Posted by: Holla26 | January 4, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"What kind of reccomendations does the Independent Payment Advisory Board make to reduce spending for Medicare?"
-Posted by: Holla26

They've got two options:
a) Cut payments to physicians, which will drive even more independent M.D.s away from accepting Medicare patients, eroding availability of care, or
b) Restricting covered services, in effect, 'rationing' care.

Posted by: OttoDog | January 4, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"What kind of reccomendations does the Independent Payment Advisory Board make to reduce spending for Medicare?"
-Posted by: Holla26

They've got two options:
a) Cut payments to physicians, which will drive even more independent M.D.s away from accepting Medicare patients, eroding availability of care, or
b) Restricting covered services, in effect, 'rationing' care.

-------------------------------------------

So this group or panel will be in charge of finding ways to reduce spending by Medicare and will not have to go through congress. In other words, the bill sets up an independent group or panel that makes decisions on where to cut spending for healthcare and the only way to cut spending is through cutting services and reimbursment rates. So the people on Medicare now have to wait longer or not get the care they would have the year before. At the same time, the doctors must raise rates for private insurers to offset thier reduction in income from Medicare patients. Will this lead to any deaths that could have been prevented?

Posted by: Holla26 | January 4, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

From where I'm sitting, it looks like the Repubs took all their marbles and went home early in the game. I see no reason to stop the game, or start a new game, just in case they might like to play now.

The most I would offer them is: "you can join the next game, after this one's done."

Posted by: onewing1 | January 4, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

tommyhendricks wrote...
Don't support socialism. Don't be an economics imbecile.
===================

The current bills have nothing to do with solcializing the healthcare system but the VA medical system is a completely socialized healthcare system right here in America. They pay for the doctors, they pay for the medicine which they distribute, they own the hospitals and clinics and they negotiate prices for all services provided.

Which member of the GOP is advocating getting rid of the VA and if not why not considering how socialist it is?

If you think the GOP understands economics just look at the last 10 years and tell us where any GOP economic achievement is. Don't be a GOP/Fox-fed imbicile.

Posted by: Fate1 | January 4, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I'm curious and would like to hear from conservatives/Repubs on this:

Do Repub constituents actually want their elected Repub officials to march, lock-step, to the tune of 'obstruction at all costs'? If so, why? Seriously, I'm trying to understand this (beyond the obvious "if you fail, we get elected").

Personally, I'd be pissed if the people I elected were engaged in such destructive, irresponsible behavior all the while claiming to "represent me".

I want my elected officials to do the job I sent them to Congress to do ... not to get re-elected, but to pass legislation that aligns with my interests and desires.

Even when my party is in the minority, I want/expect them to do the best they can to influence legislation and ameliorate ideological conflicts through reasonable compromise.

But, I haven't heard or read any complaints from Republican constituents about their representatives' obstructionist strategy.

Does this mean they're quite satisfied with the job their representatives are doing for them? That they support this 'obstructionist agenda'?

Posted by: onewing1 | January 4, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

sounds like the wingnuts won't be happy until somebody creates a death panel for them to complain about. In the meantime, they have so declared their love for Big Brother (Corporate Version) that they would rather things continue to decline the way they are rather than have their preconceived notions and prejudices challenged by reality.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | January 4, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Congress We,The People Say No Obamacare ever,got it now Stupid? As the
Rasmussen Poll shows 52% of Americans are
still opposed to Obamacare! If the damn
dimwit Democrat Congress passed Obamacare
then the Senior Citizens like myself and
our families will vote the Democrats out
in both 2010 and 2012. The Congress needs to junk Obamacare and start all over here.

Posted by: loneeagle1938 | January 4, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"Do Repub constituents actually want their elected Repub officials to march, lock-step, to the tune of 'obstruction at all costs'? If so, why? Seriously, I'm trying to understand this (beyond the obvious "if you fail, we get elected")."

Why do you think they have the tune of 'obstruction at all costs'? Is it because thier IDEAS are completely ignored maybe? If there are three people that want ice cream and you can only buy one gallon. Two want Vanilla and one wants Chocolate. Would you call the guy that wants Chocolate an obstructionist? What would you call the two that want Vanilla at all costs and will not compromise on half vanilla half chocolate.


"Personally, I'd be pissed if the people I elected were engaged in such destructive, irresponsible behavior all the while claiming to "represent me"."

Considering the majority do not want the bill and 85% are happy with thier helthcare, who is better representing thier constituents? (look at poll numbers too)

"I want my elected officials to do the job I sent them to Congress to do ... not to get re-elected, but to pass legislation that aligns with my interests and desires."

Who doesn't? BTW - Pelosi just stated that getting dems reelcted in 2010 is her number one priority.

"Even when my party is in the minority, I want/expect them to do the best they can to influence legislation and ameliorate ideological conflicts through reasonable compromise."

Yeah, what would you do if you were a repub right now and you fundamentally disagreed with the bill? Maybe vote against it?

"But, I haven't heard or read any complaints from Republican constituents about their representatives' obstructionist strategy."

Again, would you rather them all just vote for the bill because YOU like it?

"Does this mean they're quite satisfied with the job their representatives are doing for them? That they support this 'obstructionist agenda'?"

I dont think anybody is satisfied with congress.

Posted by: Holla26 | January 4, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

There is also the issue that the House Progressive Caucus is not on board with the lack of a traditional conference committee due to concerns that liberal voices will be virtually shut out.

Improving the bill, from a policy-oriented perspective, seems to require moving toward increased affordability and an increased contribution from the pharmaceutical industry as in the House bill, combined with increased cost-containment of system-wide health care costs and increased movement toward health-delivery system reforms as in the Senate bill.

Clearly the final product is going to be closer to the Senate version in terms of the public option question, abortion and financing, but the previously mentioned above differences between the two bills are areas where agreement should be readily achievable and should form the real crux of Senate/House negotiations.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | January 4, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"The Congress needs to junk Obamacare and start all over here."
Posted by: loneeagle1938
------------------------

1) Please define what "Obamacare is and how it differs from the current health care system, if you can.

2) What is your alternative? Where do you wan to "start over"? Or are you willing to continue paying for the uninsured who show up at emergency rooms? Are you willing to continue risking bankruptcy due to a major illness, lose your house due to a chronic disease, or instantly lose your current health insurance due to a layoff.

Oh, nevermind, you mentioned you were a Senior Citizen so you have Medicare so I don't think you have the proper perspective on the problem. I lost my health care due to the company I worked for going into chapter 7 with no severance or job prospect. I've had a procedure for my wife called "experimental" even though the procedure was 10 years old and a safer procedure. I've been told by insurance companies that because I did not call after an accident they would not cover the hospital costs because it was not an "emergency". I fought them on all and won, but I did not enjoy the fight and saw no need to fight.

Enjoy your Medicare but at least think about those who live in the real world of what the republicans want to keep, greedy health insurers who fight paying your medical bills to increase profits.

Posted by: Fate1 | January 4, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The theme of this posting shows that President Obama is ignoring at least two of his campaign promises and in all probability a third will go bye-bye.

First the claim of working in a bipartisan manner is shown to be a fraud.

Second the claim that all negotiations would be on C-Span so the public could observe is a sham.

Third it is apparent that the final bill will be loaded up with earmarks and special interest goodies.

President Obama is showing that he is just another politician who has no intention of fulfilling his campaign promises!

Posted by: mwhoke | January 4, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

@ Holla:

I take that as a resounding "YES" to my questions. Yes, you are quite satisfied with the job that your elected officials are doing on your behalf. And yes, their "obstruction at all cost" methods are justified because their ideas have been completely ignored by the majority party.

I see I didn't make it clear that I was talking about the job of governance, legislating in general ... not the HCR bill specifically.

Let me ask you another question that gets more to the issue I was trying to raise (the job of legislation in general):

Let's say you're sitting in a business meeting at work with your colleagues and your job (for which you are being compensated quite well) is to develop a new policy for your company. But, quickly you notice no one seems to be listening to your ideas, or if they do listen, they just point out how your ideas won't work and then move on.

Given your previous response to me, are you saying (in this work situ) you think it would be perfectly acceptable for you to grab your things and walk out of the business meeting and refuse to attend any more meetings at work because no one listens to, and/or incorporates, your ideas... and that you'd still expect to remain employed even if you behaved this way in the work world?

I'm just saying, Repub or Demo, if I'm paying your salary (as you and I are doing right now), I expect you to act like an adult, and a professional, and get the job (of legislating) done without any extraneous b.s. impeding the process. That's what we're electing ... and paying them (regardless of party) ... to do.

Posted by: onewing1 | January 4, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

If this bill were any good the Democrats would have held numerous public hearings and brought in expert witnesses, and even members of the public at large.

Instead, it's a POS.

I've spent a fair amount of time figuring out where I can break the law if this is passed. Remarkable stuff in there ~

In the end it will be quite readily gamed by the rich and powerful, as usual, and will result in a vast amount of graft and courruption.

I'm going to get rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 4, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Finally, the Democrats come to their senses.

If all the GOP wants to do is say NO, then simply accept their responses as NO instead of wasting weeks for the GOP to record their responses as NO, and move on.

The GOP's success is being measured by how long they get to keep saying NO.

Posted by: HumanSimpleton | January 4, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

The pertinent facts of the committee haven't actually been addressed:

Who appoints the committee, who normally makes it up, and, in the present case, who will ACTUALLY make it up?

Since virtually every Republican has totally rejected the version of his chamber, there would seem to be no Republicans who qualify to work on reconciliation of the bills. That WILL make the bills totally Democratic, with no Republican input, but the Republicans have refused to give any positive input all along.

We need, and mostly want, a health care bill. There was a time when the republicans could have recognized that fact, and the fact that this time there would be SOME kind of health care bill, and worked to include Republican thinking in it. Instead they decided to recognize that Obama campaigned on passing health care and decided to defeat his efforts. Now that they have lost that round they are back with the half truth that they had no input. They had no input, it is true, but only because they didn't want any when their input might have made the bill bi-partisan. They could still have input, but the cost, their irrevocable word to vote on the bill should they get input, would bind them to vote for the bill, and what they want is their input into a bill they will still vote against.

Time and tide have run against them. Reconcile the bill as best the democrats can, pass it without a single Republican vote, and let the Republicans pay the price of their petulance.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 4, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Sent: Saturday, January 2, 2010 8:49:09 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: An idea who's time has come!
this email came from a good friend and I agree...

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that Congressmembers could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered...in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.
Have each person contact a minimum of Twenty people on their Address list, in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ".

These actions are the action of Constitutional contemp "Treason" degerdation of duty sue these people out of office..people need to start filing small claims law suits in the local courts..Use Sanctum Mcgallium

Bruce Anderson
Face Book
and find me on hyscience.com

Posted by: WindSong | January 4, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

fate1
The 'Death panels" refered to by Gov. Palin and others are the triage panels that will decide if you should get the medicine/treatment that will save your life or of it will go to someone "more deserving".
Those in favor of transforming healthcare (the left) delibrately conflated the notion of end-of-life counseling (which has its place) with those panels which must decide where to spend our finite resources. Such panels will inevitabley consign to death (for example)the elderly dialysis patient. They would rather spend the money on someone more worthy.
Here are the reasons:
They can lie to themselves, demean Gov. Palin, and tell themselves how smart they are, but in the end they have no answer for this problem.

Posted by: thestalkinghorse1 | January 4, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

fate1
The 'Death panels" refered to by Gov. Palin and others are the triage panels that will decide if you should get the medicine/treatment that will save your life or of it will go to someone "more deserving".
Those in favor of transforming healthcare (the left) delibrately conflated the notion of end-of-life counseling (which has its place) with those panels which must decide where to spend our finite resources. Such panels will inevitabley consign to death (for example)the elderly dialysis patient. They would rather spend the money on someone more worthy.
Here are the reasons:
They can lie to themselves, demean Gov. Palin, and tell themselves how smart they are, but in the end they have no answer for this problem.

Posted by: thestalkinghorse1 | January 4, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

POTUS MaoBama aka "The Liar in Chief, Botox "The Liar" Pelosi and Senile Reid will hash out the details behind closed doors, short circuiting the Congressional Process ???

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside doesn't it ???

Why don't they just trash the Constitution while they are at it ???

That seems to be their objective !!!

Posted by: thgirbla | January 4, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Just another typical move by the Democrats. It just goes to show how much they really want to work with the Republicans. The Republicans have offered alternatives but the Democrats keep saying no because it goes against their "Tax the Rich, Create More Entitlements" agenda! For those liberals who say the Republicans have only been saying NO its just not true! They have offered alternatives, but the Democrats are the ones who refused to listen. If you honestly take a step back, you will see the error in your ways!

Posted by: sanmateo1850 | January 4, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

thestalkinghorse1 wrote: "fate1: The 'Death panels" refered to by Gov. Palin and others are the triage panels that will decide if you should get the medicine/treatment that will save your life or of it will go to someone "more deserving"."

No, that is completely false. She was refering to a portion of the (old) bill which required Medicare to pay for end-of-life consulting if the patient asked for it. That was spun by Palin and others as a requirement for doctors to force patients facing end of life situations into such consults to not continue life saving procedures, thus saving costs. Palin was completely wrong as were the teabaggers who kept repeating it. Note that few republicans in congress repeated it because they knew it was wrong, but of course never said so, they just let the attack continue. Truth is not important to the republicans, winning is. That portion of the bill was pulled to end the attacks, so now if your grandmother wants end of life consulting it will have to come out of her pocketbook. Score one for the republicans in increasing what grandma has to pay for her health care.

thestalkinghorse1 wrote: "Those in favor of transforming healthcare (the left) delibrately conflated the notion of end-of-life counseling (which has its place) with those panels which must decide where to spend our finite resources. Such panels will inevitabley consign to death (for example)the elderly dialysis patient."

Again completely false. No panel would decide on who receives what health care. Have you even read that portion of the bill? Why don't you educate yourself and read here what FactCheck had to say about Palin making stuff up again:
http://www.factcheck.org/2009/08/palin-vs-obama-death-panels/

As for dialysis patients, keep in mind it was a bipartisan vote in 1972 that placed patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) into Medicare, thus ensuring anyone with that disease can obtain dialysis. I remember in the 1960s when dialysis was rationed and hospital "death panels" chose who would get treatment and who would not, usually based on that person's worth to family and society. Even today republicans make no mention of the socialized health care people with ESRD, which republicans seem to not only allow to exist but actively support. Are republicans scizophrenic or just playing political games?

thestalkinghorse1 wrote: "They would rather spend the money on someone more worthy. Here are the reasons:
They can lie to themselves, demean Gov. Palin, and tell themselves how smart they are, but in the end they have no answer for this problem."

Palin's inaccurate statement has been debunked for many months. Repeating it simply shows who is lying to themselves.

Posted by: Fate1 | January 5, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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