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What do Democrats want out of the White House's health-care summit?

hcsummit.JPG

"Ironing out the policy particulars [of the health-care bill] is not a real obstacle," sighs one tired Senate aide. "We were pretty much there before Massachusetts. We pretty much had an agreement. We know where we’ll end up. The issue is the process."

This is what pretty much every Hill office tells me: The health-care holdup is not policy. It's process.

So what can the summit do? Well, somehow or other, it's got to leave Democrats confident enough to push this into the end zone. The Hill feels it's doing its part. Democrats expect to have a compromise proposal ready in time for the summit. "I have a quiet confidence we’ll be able to bridge our differences," says Jim Manley, spokesman for Harry Reid. "There's been a lot more talk behind the scenes than people realize. It's an awful lot of work for a bill that’s supposedly not going anywhere."

No one expects the summit to kick off a bipartisan miracle. The Republicans' repeated demands to scrap the bill and start over have left little doubt as to their intentions. Republicans want the bill dead, Democrats want the bill passed, and it's hard to chart a middle path between those positions. Everyone is open to making concessions to the GOP, but few think that tort reform will bring any Republicans on board. Loudly bringing more Republican ideas into the bill may be good public relations, but it's not thought likely to change the vote count.

What's left, then, is a tussle over the optics of partisanship. "I don’t think the Democrats need to be convinced that the Republicans aren’t interested in cooperating," the aide told me. "They need to be convinced that the public is convinced of that." And that's where the president, and the summit, come into the picture. Hill aides say that creating the political space that will allow Democrats in Congress to act is the president's job now, as he's really the leader of the party.

But when it comes down to it, the question of process is really going to be a compromise over the reconciliation process. Republicans are attempting to brand it an abuse of power (an abuse of power they used for the Bush tax cuts, but I digress). Democrats haven't even begun the work of defining it as a simple up-or-down vote, and a process they'll gladly forgo if Republicans agree to let the Democrats have an up-or-down vote without using reconciliation. For now, that debate is still a few weeks away, and it will only be engaged if Obama can convince voters that Democrats are dealing in good faith, and that Republicans are not.

Photo credit: By Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  February 16, 2010; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: Will the excise tax survive?

Comments

"push into the end zone..." -- getting ready for writing for broader consumption?

Posted by: bdballard | February 16, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

This all makes me ask the question again, what in heaven's name were the republicans thinking even accepting the premise of a health care summit?

Just by virtue of showing up for this, they will feed the narrative that they're involved when its not the republicans this President needs to win over, its his own conservadems!

Big fumble by the GOP on this one.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 16, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

As Ezra said, this is about convincing Democrats that the public is convinced that the Republicans aren't going to cooperate.

Knowing that, if I were a Republican strategist, I'd try and have my guys come off as reasonable and conciliatory, so they'll look like steamroller victims when the D's run this through with reconciliation.

I'm sure that's all been thought through by folk smarter than I.

This whole thing is an exercise in knowing what the other side knows, and knowing what the other side knows you know. And knowing... never mind. It's tautological kabuki.

The side that wins is the one that has the biggest surprise, and the best soundbite to get it all over the media.

Posted by: itstrue | February 16, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the GOP really screwed the pooch by accepting the legitimacy of the summit in the first place. They could have changed the subject in so many ways, but they didn't. Shows how surprised they were by the whole idea.

That said, the Democrats should be prepared for all levels of craziness at this thing. The GOP's best hope is a wild curve ball of some sort.

Posted by: itstrue | February 16, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

if Obama can convince voters that Democrats are dealing in good faith,? How can he do that? Scrap his back door deal with pharma? Scrap his back door deal with hospitals? The only way is to scrap the bill. He's not smart enough for that.

Posted by: obrier2 | February 16, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

From the outside, the biggest issue remains the fact that the House must take an up-or-down vote on the pending bill before it can fully become a candidate for reconciliation. Again, the House passed a bill, the Senate took up the same bill and amended it, and the amended bill is now before the House.

So, yes, there are process issues. As usual, there are also some House/Senate trust issues.

To use the reconciliation process in the Senate, the bill must be deficit-neutral over a __six__ year window (including the current year) as opposed to the __ten__ year window of the regular (non-reconciliation) order. Further, any provision which does not have budget effect must be __sustained__ by a vote of 60 Senators: in regular order, 60 votes are needed for cloture before a bill can be __amended__. The procedural rules are detailed in the CRS document at http://budget.house.gov/crs-reports/RL30862.pdf

Most importantly, "Once material has been stricken from reconciliation legislation under the Byrd rule, it may not be offered again as an amendment."

Good luck!

Posted by: rmgregory | February 16, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually three things are needed here.
1. Democrats need to get a spine and keep it and start passing needed legislation using whatever is necessary to get the job done.
2. Republicans need to recognize that they lost, elections have consequences. If they continue to act like the spoiled little child that did not like the answer. Then hopefully their constituents will realize that their chosen representatives tactics are not helping this country. You may not like the FACT that you lost but, your policies have done to this country what an earth quake did to Haiti, economically that is.
Time to grow up and govern if the Republicans are not going to do that then they should be recalled by their states and replaced. They are not acting in the best interest of this Country.
3. As such if you are not for helping this Country during a time of crisis and doing all one can to positively help. Then you are not doing the job you were elected to do, party affiliation does not matter we are suppose to be AMERICANS remember?? Country first! Quit acting on one side like spoiled children and other side like scared children and do your jobs! America Help it or leave it!

Posted by: raypc800 | February 16, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I think Ezra hit on the GOP operative phrase in "Republicans want this bill dead..." and the reason they want the bill dead is the real issue. Any real progress or reform would be perceived as an accomplishment by Obama and they have simply taken position they will block anything and everything to prevent any such perception. This is their strategy to regain the majority position. This is simply the pursuit of power at the expense of the best interests of the American people. I have never understood how so many people are unable to see through the GOP propaganda machine and realize these guys don't care about the middle class, we're just the worker bees to keep their Wall Street economic machine churning.

Posted by: charlie51 | February 16, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

By the way ... Ezra Klein is full of crap .

Posted by: lagnafrah | February 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Are the Dems brain dead ? The public has overwhelmingly rejected a big-govt, big spending approach (see elections in VA, NJ, MA. Over 80% of the country is satisfied with their care. Are you guys numbskulls ?

Posted by: dan1138 | February 16, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"Are you guys numbskulls ?"

If by numbskull, you mean rejecting inane GOP talking points, then yes. And proud.

Posted by: itstrue | February 16, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

That's right, just keep pushing that bill, Democrats.

Make my day.

Posted by: jcp370 | February 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"That's right, just keep pushing that bill, Democrats.

Make my day."

Well, if we're all in agreement, then why all the obstruction?

Posted by: itstrue | February 16, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"Over 80% of the country is satisfied with their care"

Well shoot! To hell with one fifth of the country, right?

Posted by: toweypat | February 16, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

C'mon now zeppelin003. The Republicans have to show up; it's lose-lose for them no matter what. If they don't show, then they are obstructionist. If they do show, then they are possible capitulators. This seems like a fleeting smart move on Obama's part, but nothing substantial will come from it, other than mediocre political theater.

Posted by: bhoyt13 | February 16, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

a lot of trolls on the boards lately...

Posted by: Quant | February 16, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

@dan1138: Silly rabbit, false narratives are for the woefully uninformed, who are fortunately in the minority on this site.

I think that you might be experiencing cognitive difficulties (ie brain dead) if you think that HCR won't be popular once it is passed. Despite grinding misinformation from the repiglican noise machine, the public actually supports most of the bill when it is presented in a factual way. The opposition from the public comes when the bill is distorted to be a "big-govt, big spending approach" to reforming health care. The irony is that there is not enough government in the approach, ie no public option, the single most popular item on the health care reform menu. With that, many progressive critics would be much happier and HCR would poll significantly better.

As for the recent elections, more dems won special elections for congress than repiglicans. Elections for governor have no practical bearing on federal legislation and are often focused on what is happening in the individual states. As for MA, lets see how Brown does after 2 years of voting for obstruction and thwarting progressive legislation.

As for "Over 80% of the country is satisfied with their care.":
1. This only includes people who have health care, so it leaves out the 45 million or so who don't have any at all..
2. A far more important, yet unreported, statistic would be how satisfied people are with their health care after making a claim for a major illness or injury.
3. The people in the individual market in CA are not satisfied with a 25-39% premium increase. As more people experience double digit increases and more companies drop coverage, satisfaction will plummet.

Posted by: srw3 | February 16, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

The President's idea that Republicans aren't supporting the HCR bill because they didn't get their share of payoffs or pet projects in the bill is wrong. They don't support the bills because voters hate what's in the bills not what's left out.

The voters hate the idea of spending $2.5 Trillion dollars during a recession. Voters hate the idea of a bigger more intrusive federal government, and they hate the idea of new bureaucracies interfering with their health-care. If Dems were willing to take those things out, the bills would have a chance. There are many many reforms that would cost the government little or nothing that would lower the cost of health-care.
Why not try that stuff?

Posted by: mgsorens | February 16, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Do you even think the House will take a vote on HC reform this year?

Posted by: MBP2 | February 16, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Republicans will go and state they will not offer anything until reconciliation is off the table and the bills are put in the shredder. after that, who knows, maybe someone will break out a killer shadow puppet routine.

The industrial media complex will then deploy the full spectrum of template perspectives. Diametrically opposing views will be hyperlinked side-by-side on all the politi-web for all to chew on.

Meanwhile vast swathes of the electorate are perfectly happy with their health insurance and medical care.


Posted by: tom2 | February 16, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Obamas healthcare plan is not a plus for me. I am a retiree who has earned my benefits for a lifetime. If his plan is enacted I stand to lose my benefits. It could cost approx.
$10,000 a year for me to carry his plan. Write to your Senator-I have and it falls on deaf ears. I swear,if this is crammed down our throats by Obama, the upset in Mass. will be nothing in comparison what the voters will do.There is nothing to protect current retirees,only a bill passed to
protect FUTURE RETIREES. As Lily Tomlin would have said "And that's the truth"!!!!!

Posted by: bknbkverizonnet | February 16, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The correct response to the GOP "blank page" gambit is that congress has been working on legislation for almost a year, and involved GOP input all along the way. They passed two nearly identical bills. Now the GOP wants to start all over again when there are many many other serious issues to deal with. The summit is to finish what's already been done, not to waste time and energy starting from scratch.

And the congressional Dems better get 'er done, because there is absolutely no way they are going to have anywhere near this size of a majority or mandate a year from now. It's now or never, my love can't wait.

Posted by: jeirvine | February 16, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

To Jim Manley:

If you tell a WaPo reporter you're confident is it really a quiet confidence?

Posted by: cryang | February 16, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"2. Republicans need to recognize that they lost, elections have consequences.
Posted by: raypc800"

That doesn't mean Pelosi and the progressives won. In fact if you look at the number of seats Democrats won in 2008, it shows constituents handed a mandate over the Blue Dog caucus that has frustrated Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the HCR effort with their own hold outs due to poor policy on the part of the progressive leadership.

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that your Erza Klein is a stooge and sychophant for Obama. As a so-called reporter for a major newspaper, that fact alone is disgusting but not surprising, knowing the Post. By the way, what about what the people of this nation want, not a handfull of looney, leftist Democrats in Congress. Also, Erza, many of those looney, leftist Democrats that you love so dearly will be gone after November.

Posted by: walterndebby | February 16, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to the demands of Republicans for the summit? Were they simply ignored?
Surely the Democrats shouldn't be able to show up the summit with a special interest-laden deal secured with legislator pay-offs and threats and ask Republicans either approve or offer a better option less they go to reconciliation. Is that how one defines bipartisanship? Setting the rules and forcing our opponent to relent to your demands with threats?

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to Ezra's claims, using reconciliation to pass health care is an abuse power. Now I dont expect much from ole Ezra. He does not seem to understand that reconciliation is limited to revenue and budget matters. Therego it was not an abuse of power to use it to pass tax cuts or increases but is an abuse of power to pass healthcare reform. The good news is...if the dems proceed down this path they will be out of office by 2012 and the repubs can repeal this whole mess through reconciliation and there wont be a dem who can filibuster.

Posted by: PSOG | February 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, after failing to get health care with a Dem supermajority, Obama is now attempting a little Kabuki maneuver with the hope of spinning public perception into believing that the GOP is "at fault" or "to blame" for the demise of health care legislation this year. And ironically he is attempting to use the mantle of "bipartisanship" to accomplish this.

Yet better than almost anything else, this approach completely illuminates the Administration's cluelessness. The public has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not want this monstrosity of a bill, filled with special deals, exceptions, and kickbacks. For the Dems to think that they can affix some "blame" to the GOP for failing to revive their year-long fiasco, when it is already on life support because of lack of Dem votes, is a rather unique form of delusional thinking.

As someone else said, our flag needs to be redesigned to add a 51st state . . . denial.

Posted by: prosecutor1 | February 16, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

a lot of trolls on the boards lately...

Posted by: Quant | February 16, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse


That usually means it made the front page of the site.


srw3 said:

I think that you might be experiencing cognitive difficulties (ie brain dead) if you think that HCR won't be popular once it is passed.


The problem is that it'll be popular wtih a small segment of the population (uninsurable 10-15%). The rest of the population will only see and feel taxes, continually raising costs and an absolute mess. All this after we were promised savings of $3000 by President Obama. Big mistake by him to put numbers to it.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What part of NO don't the Dems grasp?

Posted by: twharvey1 | February 16, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"The irony is that there is not enough government in the approach, ie no public option, the single most popular item on the health care reform menu. With that, many progressive critics would be much happier and HCR would poll significantly better.

As for the recent elections, more dems won special elections for congress than repiglicans. Elections for governor have no practical bearing on federal legislation and are often focused on what is happening in the individual states. As for MA, lets see how Brown does after 2 years of voting for obstruction and thwarting progressive legislation.

As for "Over 80% of the country is satisfied with their care.":
1. This only includes people who have health care, so it leaves out the 45 million or so who don't have any at all..
2. A far more important, yet unreported, statistic would be how satisfied people are with their health care after making a claim for a major illness or injury.
3. The people in the individual market in CA are not satisfied with a 25-39% premium increase. As more people experience double digit increases and more companies drop coverage, satisfaction will plummet.

Posted by: srw3"

Look again at the polls. Opposition to HCR has been greater than support since August well before the public option was removed. If progressives are feeding on the recent poll numbers, it's a marginal amount. Progressives are small part of the population to begin with, and those willing to speak poorly of Obama and HCR even smaller.
It's more likely that what Pelosi and Reid did in December and January and the subsequent desperate situation the bills are in has strengthened the resolve of its existing opponents and proponents. If EK readers are an example, progressives are adamant about passing the bill, however bad it is, through reconciliation, HHS ruling, executive order, anyway possible.

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

So Ezra Klein's best advice to the Democrats is to just push ahead with the corrupt multi-trillion dollar healthcare bill? Just ignore the stupid voters of MA who sent a message on behalf of the nation? Just ignore the American people who are completely opposed to the massive corrupt healthcare bill? Just push ahead and make the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, and the $60 billion union payoff the law of the land? At a time when we have trillion and trillions of dollars of debt looming and could be facing a massive international debt crisis, and 9.7% UNEMPLOYMENT, Ezra Klein's best advice is to hammer the economy with trillion more in costs, debt, and taxes? What can you say to that? Obama will probably follow it and we may not recover from the corruption and insanity for generations!!!!

Posted by: valwayne | February 16, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

As Reagan said, "There you go again ..." The demo line is "we won, if you dont support us you are unpatriotic." Horse pucky. My own doctor and major hospital ceo see bad times ahead for all of us with this current plan. And suddenly becoming 'bipartisan' is a marketing ploy only to make it look like they are the calmer, more educated of the group. The dems do not want cross state insurance company policies, they dont want tort reform, they dont want to clean up the abuses of Medicare. So, what in the world is there to negotiate? There is nothing cross partisan about this. "We won." Disgusting. Go ahead - shove this poorly written piece of legislation down our throats. There will be 47 Massachussets elections coming to you in just 10 months and then we will see these elected officials alltrying to work on 'K' Street as zillion dollar consultants. I would not hire them to flip hamburgers. As a non-profit consultant I traveled to six different states last week. Across racial and economic lines the people are angry. Want us to eat this stuff politically? You are all Evan Bayhs then! Bon Apetite!

Posted by: rayincolorado | February 16, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

When Dems drop the public option, and stop exempting the unions from taxes and dropping the medicare cuts for certain states, then the Republicans should sit down an mediate with the Dems. This bill is a bad bill with backroom deals that the public doesn't want.

Posted by: jschmidt2 | February 16, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

raypc800- "Republicans need to recognize that they lost, elections have consequences."

Why? So they can look bipartisan? This has everything to do with how you look to your constituents and your chances of re-election. What does the HCR bill offer anybody in the GOP that they can take back home as a 'win'? Seriously, whats in it for them?

As far as elections having consequences - they just had one in MA and the voters there were pretty unequivocal. They don't want the current bill and were pretty disgusted with the outright bribes that were paid to Landrieu and Nelson. Maybe its the dems in Washington that need to get with the program.

Posted by: invention13 | February 16, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

How telling that neither the writer, nor the anonymous CONgressional sources, even MENTION that the public does NOT want THIS bill by significant majorities. This is the best indictment of both the WaPo et al and this ridiculous CONgress - the PEOPLE do NOT enter into their equation.

Posted by: JohnLeeHooker1 | February 16, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

invention13: "As far as elections having consequences - they just had one in MA and the voters there were pretty unequivocal. They don't want the current bill and were pretty disgusted with the outright bribes that were paid to Landrieu and Nelson."

There are lots of ways to read the MA election. The most obvious is "I'm angry, the economy sucks, and Scott Brown drives a truck!" Sometimes elections aren't about much more than that.

It's not easy to pin it as a referendum on health care. The Senate bill is essentially what MA already has, and polls say that most in MA are happy with it. Consequently, those in MA have no incentive to help the rest of the country get it (Brown actually ran on this justification).

Moreover, a fair amount of opposition to the bill is from the left for not going far enough. Polls have shown support for a public option, but it's not in the bill. So it seems to me that those opposing the bill because it lacks public support should consider making the bill more liberal, no? And it's not clear at all that liberals would rather come away with nothing than with the Senate bill and a reconciliation fix.

So I think to say that people have rejected the proposed health care reform based on election results in MA is just a bit simplistic.

Posted by: dasimon | February 16, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

*When Dems drop the public option*

The public option died ages ago, and no Republican senators were interested. In fact, a few Republican senators could have decided to support the bill in exchange for dropping the Ben Nelson's kickbacks, and the bill would have passed without them, because Nelson's vote wouldn't have been needed...

It's almost as though Republicans think that they're better off, politically, if they simply have blanket opposition to the very concept of HCR and break the system entirely.

Posted by: constans | February 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

After all the posturing from both sides, the facts remain the same: the bills proposed include unjust mandates, massive growth in government bureaucracy, illicit deals with lawmakers and insurors/big pharma, phony accounting to make it "deficit neutral" and NOTHING that reduces the COST of healthcare. This is not right, and not what the majority of Americans want. And it doesn't have to be this way! I'm personally grateful to Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans for standing up to this kind of chicanery, because if it becomes law, then we have lost the opportunity for real REFORM.

Posted by: SavingGrace | February 16, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

dasimon,

its amazing that when elections favor democrats (2006 and 2008) it definitely is "Republicans are destroying this country" but when elections favor Republicans the line is: "the economy sucks and I like that this guy drives a truck".

how about the fact that democrats can't govern?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 16, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Since every writer insists on using a "football" analogy, I will as well. The only end-zone this bill is going to is the one behind the offense-this bill will be a "safety", with the Dems pushed backwards.

Posted by: yankintenn | February 16, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, what part of the message of the Massachusetts Senate race did you note understand? Sen. Brown did not run on the promise that he would 'bargain in good faith' over health care. He ran on the claim that he would STOP health care reform. Entirely. And that is the view that won him MA. Do you seriously think that in any other state of the Union it is a popular position simply to convince the voters that you support 'bargaining in good faith'? Get real. The public HATES this bill. And they will transfer that hatred to anyone who votes for it. Whatever the 'process'.

Posted by: dajh | February 16, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"...We pretty much had an agreement. We know where we’ll end up. The issue is the process."

This statement tells us all we need to know about why the Democrats on are on the verge of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory--most Democratic leadership comes out of a culture where the end result is only as good as the process by which one arrives there.

This is not always true. Sometimes, the end result is more important than the process. If the White House had been more hands-on about what it wanted and if Obama and the Democratic leadership had exerted more pressure and willingness to play hardball, (and maybe cancelled the August recess), health care would have been a done deal five or six months ago and the focus could have turned to jobs.

In 2003, the Bush team and GOP leadership in Congress used everything and anything in their control to get the Medicare Part D Prescription bill through. There were some determined GOP opponents, particularly in the House, but the White House and GOP leadership, more than willing to risk some bad feelings and ill will, pushed it through in the end. Result--Medicare Part D is law today and most people don't remember or care how Bush got it done.

There are many things Obama could have done differently--articulate a clearer vision, position the health care bill as providing the necessary foundation for middle class security, a rebound in employment and increased American competitiveness--but the worship of "process," so deeply instilled in Democrats from the late 60's onward, is the chief culprit.

Posted by: Want2Know | February 16, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, The Democrats won the election. They control the House and Senate. Heath Care is not bogged down by the Republicans. The Democrats wouldn't need Republican votes if the Democrats would all get on the same page, the page that the President read from in the campaign. Health care reform could have happened months ago. The story I want to read is the one that investigates why Democrats don't support Health Care Reform.

The President was elected on a campaign for Change. Apparently he didn't have the support of the Democrats in the Senate. Democratic Senators are enjoying the Republican distractions because the distractions, tea baggers etc, take the spotlight off Democrats who support the Republican Health Care agenda.

Posted by: tiphys | February 16, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

This bill does a nice job with coverage.
But when are we going to deal with cost? The main unnecessary cost drivers are obesity, fraud, redundant payment systems, defensive medicine/tort reform, incentives that reward more care instead of better care, a shortage of doctors and nurses, and attempting to save those at the end of life rather than keep them comfortable and let nature take its course.

Why not split out and attack these drivers in separate bills to show some good faith?

Posted by: Factified | February 16, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh God, please please please let the Democrats keep on yakking about taking over the health care industry. A Republican sitting atop Ted Kennedy's throne apparently taught them nothing. Perhaps their next public policy "victory" will be to have the GOP take control of the house.

Posted by: TheMSMControlsUs | February 16, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that to ideologues like Klein, "cooperate" means "give me what I want."

Republicans are serious about compromise; they have no choice. But it begins when Dems go back to the drawing board and create something, with true input from both sides, that can pass with 70-80 votes in the Senate, not adding a grab-bag of rotten pork to the giant pile of manure already accumulated to attract one lone Senator from across the aisle.

The majority of the public, like the Republicans, still hates this bill. Pushing it through using a budgetary trick, while putting on a show of asking the GOP for input, is the political equivalent of the Japanese negotiating with State while launching a carrier task force to annihilate the fleet. If that happens, the 2010 elections will be the equivalent of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. Then, Republicans will simply end the HCR bill via reconciliation in 2013, when the new President takes over, the precedent having been established.

The sooner you get this through your skulls, the better.

Posted by: INTJ | February 16, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"Moreover, a fair amount of opposition to the bill is from the left for not going far enough. Polls have shown support for a public option, but it's not in the bill.
Posted by: dasimon"

Not to sound like Democrat when approached with a Republican amendment, but no, no, no, and no.

According to the Wash. Post/ABC News polls, opposition to the bill has persisted since August. It wasn't until December that Lieberman killed off the public option. For a great number of those months the public disliked what was a bill liked by progressives.
Further more progressives account for a small amount of electorate to have any significance in any public opinion poll.
And when approached with the options of a government-run public option, government-regulated market or status quo, the public supported them 37%, 30% and 30%.
The same polls thought the bills would increase HC costs for the country and them, and not improve their quality of care or the Medicare program.
Maybe, maybe, HCR polled positively at some time in the distant past when no one knew how they were going to. But that's long passed. The public has seen what's in store for them and they want nothing of the bills.

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

This is a joke, right? I mean, the implication that the real issue is the atmospherics of who looks most willing to deal. The reason that the bill is in so much trouble is that most of the population doesn't like it, and many of the Democrats know it. A few talking heads may be focused on process, but the population (and the Republicans in the fall) will be focused on the provisions of the bill. If the Democratic leadership is really thinking the way you are, they are determined to self-immolate fighting the "good fight". I can only hope they don't have enough rank and file willing to go down in flames with them.

Posted by: CTObserver | February 16, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

The bill is a PoS. The government has shown it can't "manage" 5/6 of the economy it's tried to "manage" in the past year, what makes them think they can manage the other 1/6. They need to go away and leave us (the American people) alone, because 80% are happy with our health care. What else can they say that about?

Posted by: MIMI13 | February 16, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I think the democrat party and the republican party have no middle to meet in. Either you accept national health care and the expansion of government power and abuse or you don't. A principled stand can't meet half way between. Half way between is giving up on a principal that the government has no business in health care. Any acceptance of government in health care is a complete loss of the principles that made the United States of America great.

The only thing that could be viewed as a compromise to me is to make any health care payment 100% tax deductible including any purchase of pharmacueticals. Clearly this would lower the cost to the American people. The question is, is that really the democrat goal? It would take amending 3 lines in the tax code. Changing the deduction from that percentage in excess of 7.5% of income to all amounts paid for medical. But I think the democrat party is really the socialist party with another name. So its power they are really after.

Posted by: Quek | February 16, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is like most Beltway journalist missing the elephant in the room - the majority of Americans do not want this type of health reform. Reconciliation on a tax cut - why would the average citizen not want more of their money left with them? Reconciliation for a giant bureaucracy over our health care with nothing controling cost and political bribes is totally diferent is totally different. The people do not want it!!Such arrogance will not be forgotton or forgiven for decades.

Posted by: JCG1 | February 16, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
Thank heavens there are zealots like you out there who keep trying to convince the Demonuts to continue in their zeal! I hope that they try to push this monstrosity through. The voters have told them NO, NO, and NO in recent elections, but they keep getting it wrong. As do you. Keep it up. It will insulate the Republicans in November from having to do anything to succeed. Just to stop "journalists" like you from pushing their rancid agenda, people will vote against the Demonuts.
Good luck with that.

Posted by: spk2moi | February 16, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

To RayPC800;

Elections have consequences. Well Bush won in 2000 and again in 2004. It didn't stop the democrats with supporting the terrorists and fighting Bush on every appointment. The democrat party is about power. You really don't believe this, you just want the opposition to be quiet. When a republican is elected again, you and your socialist buddies will fight every piece of legislation tooth and nail as you did last time. You will just come off as a hypocrit.

Posted by: Quek | February 16, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Not sure where this falls in the category of "reporting", but it is certainly not educating the citizens on an issue in an unbiased way. Typical for the WaPo. This bill will not help the citizens in the long run, period. It is a disgusting example of politics at its worst and it seems to have no purpose other than to increase government. By the way, at least the tax cuts benefited the citizens too.

Posted by: prm31 | February 16, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Ezra;

"Everyone is open to making concessions to the GOP, but few think that tort reform will bring any Republicans on board."

Funny. Why would that be a concession? Secondly, who is open to making concessions? It was widely reported that the republicans have had nothing to do with bill and weren't invited to the meetings about this bill. You seem to making this stuff up whole cloth without any facts.

Posted by: Quek | February 16, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I work 80 hrs a week to make enough to buy health care for my family; why should I pay for the health care of those who won't work?

Posted by: Ja_Mais | February 16, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

This whole argument that "the whole country does not like the health bill" is as bogus as the argument that the Republicans want to play a role in passing health care reform. In some ways, the current situation is like going to a series of football games, only to find out that they all end in ties. (How is crickett so popular in some countries?) There are two teams in a football game. Someone is the winner.
In our nation of politics, there are two parties. If no one from the minority side comes over to vote for majority bills, THE BILLS SHOULD STILL PASS! That's the way it should work.
On with health care reform. Let's get it done!

Posted by: crossingsg | February 16, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Pfff. It's all about process... not.

It won't pass because it's political suicide. The public won't stand for it. Anyone who tries to push this thing through is finished politically. Even the no-nothing "undecided" voters are clued-in now.

It'd be done already if that weren't the case.

Posted by: DualTurbos | February 16, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, the democrat spokesman at the WP is still the cheerleader for the actions that led to the total collapse of Republican cooperation.

There was no consultation, no pre-bill inter-party meeting and no cross-aisle consultations. This was a totally democrat bill, with no willingness of any leader to talk to the other side, no willingness to bring back to the huddle any ideas gleaned from the discussions at social contact opportunities.

Moderates, like Evan Bayh were told to shut up and push it through. So, when the people see the product of the back room dealing to be cowpies with frosting, not good cakes, they rebel. The back-roomers fear that their power will be reduced if they do their jobs and consult, There is polarization, which will continue the "vote out the bums" mentality.

Get at the funders of the demos-trial lawyers, wall streeters, ACORN, big banks, GM/Chrysler, the unions and the welfare lobby. Get at the energy companies, the supporters of urban slums (subdivisions), big agriculture and the defense industries that fund the republicans.

When the group bribery stops, the partys will consult and good legislation will result.

Posted by: clearlycarl | February 16, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats manage to push their HC bill "into the endzone" the fans in the stadium are going to pour onto the field and crush them. If the Republicans go along or enable the passage, they will be crushed too.

November 2nd is only 257 days away.

Posted by: frumious | February 16, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

It's simple -- drop the mandate, while keeping the community rating requirement (no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or life time cap) that Republicans say they support.

Why should the Democrats be carrying water for the private health carriers, who are the main proponents of mandates? That's the Republicans' job.

Posted by: mnjam | February 16, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

BHO the fraud's poll #s have been below 50% for over a month.
ObamaCare is dead in the water.

HCR is not about the people of this country of ours. It is a POLITICAL issue, all politics, all making deals with the lobbyists using your MONEY to pay off friends and give the rest to willy nilly with NO accountability.

Guess what?
We are not buying it.
I am a proud member of the party of NO WAY

wake up people.
look carefully at what is happening in DC. It is all about power over YOU, with YOUR MONEY

Posted by: rdb2 | February 16, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Ezra says the President must convince the public that he's acting in good faith. Well, the President, like Ezra, just wants his bill passed. The "summit" is just window dressing, everyone knows that, so how the heck is President Obama supposed to convince people of something which is manifestly untrue?

Posted by: wbcoleman | February 16, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

This whole excercise is Kabuki theater and a trap for the Repbulicans. The Republicans should just say at the outset of the meeting that they are not interested in making changes at the margin of the Democrat's bill at the eleventh hour but that they'd be open to starting work on a new bill. If the Democrats hold to the precondition the laid out, namely that they aren't going to scrap the present bill and start over, then the meeting will be over.

Posted by: tbass1 | February 16, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"There was no consultation, no pre-bill inter-party meeting and no cross-aisle consultations. This was a totally democrat bill, with no willingness of any leader to talk to the other side, no willingness to bring back to the huddle any ideas gleaned from the discussions at social contact opportunities.
Posted by: clearlycarl"

Very true.
Democrats like to say that Republicans were consulted, but when? The bill came from the house and revised by Reid. This isn't the Senate Finance Committee bill. Heck, this isn't even the Senate HELP or Ways & Means Committees bills that were rushed through along narrow party line votes before summer recess.
When the bill came from the House, Senator McCain tried to send it to the Finance Committee (a committee headed by the one Democrat willing to listen to Republican ideas), but Democrats voted that process down 58-42. In fact, Democrats blocked every single Republican amendment. Instead of being looked at closely by a bipartisan committee, the bill was taken into the back room and made revisions to get Lieberman, Landrieu, Nelson, liberal pro-choicers and other Senate Democrats.
At no time was there an attempt to grant Republicans any say on how Pelosi and House's bill should take shape in the Senate. None!

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Of course if President Obama could have convinced the public that his efforts were bi-partisan he would have already done so and his approval ratings wouldn't be grazing 47% (1.5 points above his disapproval ratings).

And Mr. Klein, you would be a far more credible opinion shaper if you didn't show up every other day on MSNBC lamenting the demise of the health care bill with Keith Olberman....

Posted by: liseliz | February 16, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you're ridiculous. Go write for the Huff Post or Daily Koz, somewhere where your level of credibility matches the "news outlet" in question. Calling you an embarrassment falls far short of of the whole truth....

Posted by: subframer | February 16, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

The game theorists are salivating. I think this will be the best political drama in years.

Steve

Posted by: FatTriplet3 | February 16, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Jump lemmings jump--go for it Pleeeeeze

Posted by: ZippyinAnnapolis | February 16, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi's top health care aide confirmed that the “pre-negotiated package” would include the sweetheart deals we made with our special interest allies before the Massachusetts special election.

It was reported today that special interest groups are calling on our old party to finalize a health care bill in advance of the proposed health care summit.

Surprise Surprise! Just another show by bad actors in Washington.

We just do not get it! No lessons learned, so Tea Party here I come!!!! Get em all out!

Posted by: pigscuits | February 16, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Check the picture out above--who is the happiest person in the room? Ha ha ha ha ha-- it s like Harry just cut the cheese! And he did.

Posted by: ZippyinAnnapolis | February 16, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

srw3,
This legislation will not lower premiums for most people, it will raise them. Will it lower premiums for people with chronic conditions and pre-existing conditions? Sure, probably. It will achieve that by raising premiums for everyone else. And because of the weak mandate, premiums will spiral upward to an equilibrium level that is much higher.
Steve

Posted by: FatTriplet3 | February 16, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Process? Well, for the Democrats' sake, let's *hope* it's only about process, because their healthcare *policy* is about as popular as my David Paterson for president t-shirts. To suggest that healthcare is a fait accompli, as Democratic flacks such as Ezra Klein keep doing, isn't going to get this thing into the "end zone" (since the Obama people are now fixated on the football analogy for it, we'll go along for clarity).

Maybe the Democrats have something up their sleeves, but all the talk of "Senate bill plus prearranged reconciliation" has begged this question: if that's going to work, why haven't they done it already? Time is no more on their side than is public opinion. Getting even an inch closer to the midterms with this barf sandwich as their signature accomplishment seems problematic.

So, yes, Ezra Klein seems delusional as usual. His is the particular delusion of a generally smart person who reads and hears a lot about what's going on and then reaches a foregone conclusion because he's a hyper-partisan ideologue with a quasi-religious attachment to his own unimpeachable worldview. Then a bunch of commenters come along and fist-pump his conclusion as though it's somehow the rational result of objective analysis or a revelation of inside dope from people who know better than the rest of us.

And what's all this fascination with the summit? The first Obama-Republican confab, which the liberal press gleefully portrays as an Obama victory of some sort, meant nothing outside the beltway and the network newsrooms. Meanwhile, Obama's approval rating fell again, more than half the country apparently feels he shouldn't be reelected according to CNN (meaningless this early as anything but a barometer of our distate for him and what he's doing), and Evan Bayh is throwing in the towel. Some Obama victory.

Why do people think the PR spectacle of Obama and smug Democratic leaders trying to win debate points with platitudes is going to make a difference? Something may be happening in the backrooms regarding healthcare. For the sake of the healthcare system, let's hope this terminal case finally flatlines.

Posted by: Imperfections | February 16, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

They (Obama) want ****COVER****!!!

Posted by: wheeljc | February 16, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Ezra and other Dems who still believe health care "reform" is doable come off like that Japanese soldier on an island.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | February 16, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

This "we've got to pass Obamacare or else we'll get killed in the next election" is the most remarkable mass delusion I've seen in years. A Republican, Scott Brown, wins in Massachusetts of all places, by promising to help kill this bill, but the moonbats have convinced themselves that the only way they can truly succeed is to cram it down the throats of an unwilling public. Amazing.

Posted by: pijacobsen | February 16, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

The politically smart thing would be for the Dems to pass it. If you actually LOOK at the polls

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/healthplan.php

"Opposed" has topped out at about 52%.

Given the way that the "public option availability" has polled in the last year (majorities in favor, up to a stunning 75%,) that means that well over half of the spread is probably made up of liberals and progressives who are angry that there is a mandate with NO nonprofit public option.

The Dems have been badly hurt by their Blue Dogs in the Senate.

Therefore, the politically smart thing to do is to pass the current reform bill by reconciliation. Then everybody will take 2-3 months to find out everything the reform does, and the parts they don't like, and the prospects for improving it again in the near future if you elect good people.

Then their emotions will subside, and they will say, "You know what, this reform is going in the right direction, and at least the Democrats had the guts to push it, and the Republicans were total jerks," -- and the Republicans will be out of business for about an entire generation.

After all, the current Republican position is, "We're going to obstruct this, so you can continue to pay 40% more than any other advanced country for the same health statistics. Also, we don't think everybody should immediately be covered!"

Markets are going to equalize international labor costs. That's economics. So the U.S. is going to start losing in global markets. Any American who is awake is wondering how we're going to stay competitive, and do it while continuing to live in a moral society with universal coverage.

The way forward is this reform, plus more reform in the future.

We must get to a TWO-TIER system, like almost every competitive country already has: A baseline non-profit plan that covers everyone regardless of ability to pay, funded by a mandate or out of taxes. PLUS private coverage available on top, for your rhinestone-encrusted lifestyle, and thereby creating demand for the latest high-tech and pharma.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 16, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

@dan1138: Silly rabbit, false narratives are for the woefully uninformed, who are fortunately in the minority on this site.

As for the recent elections, more dems won special elections for congress than repiglicans. Elections for governor have no practical bearing on federal legislation and are often focused on what is happening in the individual states. As for MA, lets see how Brown does after 2 years of voting for obstruction and thwarting progressive legislation.

As for "Over 80% of the country is satisfied with their care.":
1. This only includes people who have health care, so it leaves out the 45 million or so who don't have any at all..

Posted by: srw3


Srw3,

You are a boob.

Here is the link to the Gallup Poll showing 80% of ALL AMERICANS are happy with their health care.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/123149/Cost-Is-Foremost-Healthcare-Issue-for-Americans.aspx

Your willful ignorance is symptomatic of your ideology. It is why your movement is faltering and flailing. It is why a mere year after his election CNN released a poll today showing the majority of the American people don't think Obama deserves a second term.
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/16/rel4a.pdf

It is also why the democratic party is facing historic destruction in November when only months ago republicans were predicted to be wandering in the wilderness for a generation.

The above polls are from rather dubious sources because they typically lean left. It looks even worse when you look at a generaly reliable polling source like Rasmussen.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 16, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Lee_A_Arnold said:
Therefore, the politically smart thing to do is to pass the current reform bill by reconciliation. Then everybody will take 2-3 months to find out everything the reform does, and the parts they don't like, and the prospects for improving it again in the near future if you elect good people.


Lee,

The vast majority of the overhaul/takeover doesn't kick in until 2012/13. Anyone with a brain larger than a pea can deduce that this is a political ploy to get term 2 in before the proverbial @#!^ hits the fan and people get their first nauseating taste of socialized medicine coupled with an unbearable tax burden. It's another attempt at a snow job in a year packed with them. The democrats are covertly and ever so gently manuvering the yolk of slavery over the producers in this nation.

There is very little reform in this bill and a whole lot of government power. Obama and the congress keep spending. They wants to break this nation and consolidate power while bleeding us out. Obviously.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 16, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

As anyone with a brain larger than a pea knows, the largest part of the reason the overhaul doesn't kick in immediately is because the extra demand would swamp the system. Right now the system isn't big enough to cover everybody. The hospitals and other providers need to do their market analyses to ramp-up supply in an orderly way to meet the expected demand. Basic economics.

If people are really going to hate the new system then it will be dismantled, and the Dems won't get back in power in our lifetimes. The idea that it would be hard to undo by a concerted Republican effort, is stupid nonsense.

That's not the real problem. The Republicans don't want this bill to pass because it's got Republican ideas from 40 years of bipartisan discussions and the Dems are going to get the political credit.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 16, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

As to spending snow jobs, by the way, the components of the deficits are broken out here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CBO_Forecast_Changes_for_2009-2012.png

Looks like Obama has little to do with it!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 16, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Let me write it again: Over half of the spread in the "oppose/favor healthcare reform" polls is made up of disaffected independents, liberals, and progressives, many of whom are pissed that there is no non-profit public option. Several commenters here predicted this effect back in August! You can see that breakpoint in Pollster's graph.

This is the most likely reading, because there is no other way to incorporate into this graph the strong majorities that were in favor of the "public option" THROUGHOUT last year's polls.

These people can be won back if the Dems take the initiative now, pass the reform bill with no more delay, and then campaign to add a non-profit plan.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 16, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

"Given the way that the "public option availability" has polled in the last year (majorities in favor, up to a stunning 75%,) that means that well over half of the spread is probably made up of liberals and progressives who are angry that there is a mandate with NO nonprofit public option.
Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold"

According to the Wash. Post/ABC News polls, opposition to the bill has persisted since August. It wasn't until December that Lieberman killed off the public option. For a great number of those months the public disliked what was a bill liked by progressives.
Further more progressives account for a small amount of electorate to have any significance in any public opinion poll.
And when approached with the options of a government-run public option, government-regulated market or status quo, the public supported them 37%, 30% and 30%.
The same polls thought the bills would increase HC costs for the country and them, and not improve their quality of care or the Medicare program.
Maybe, maybe, HCR polled positively at some time in the distant past when no one knew how they were going to. But that's long passed. The public has seen what's in store for them and they want nothing of the bills.
Independents now poll at 19% support for Democrats. If there's any further move on HCR they'll be lost for 2010. And if that's through reconciliation with the Nelson and Landrieu deals and individual mandate, you can kiss 2012 goodbye too.

Posted by: cprferry | February 16, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

Your previous point that I was countering was (paraphrasing) "give it a few months so people can decide what they like and don't like and then we can go back and legislate the fixes" which is one of the most sophomoric understandings of the process and the bill that I have ever heard. I have yet to hear a competent explanation as to why the nation needs this corrupt and excessive piece of legislation.

Will you give it to me? And you can spare me the statistics, they simply aren't believeable in light of the national mood and polling regarding this disaster.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for reform but I'm intensley opposed to an overhaul. There is simply no mandate for one, the electorate has made that painfully clear to you and your ilk.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 17, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Cprferry, Lieberman had little impact on public consciousness. That was mostly wonks and political jockeys. The damage was already done.

By late July there were reports that the public option was off the table, and by August this became a flood of headlines and TV news items. Google it.

The White House even went along in August by suggesting it would take the public option off the table to get Blue Dog support. The result was an immediate drop in Obama's job approval on healthcare:

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/jobapproval-presobama-health.php

And it wasn't just progressives who objected. Here is Rasmussen in August:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/august_2009/without_public_option_enthusiasm_for_health_care_reform_especially_among_democrats_collapses

Starting in August, we also read much anger about it in comments here.

And at the same time, party ID transferred to independents:

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/party-id.php

Some of them were clearly progressives fed up with the Dems.

When you write, "the public has seen what's in store for them and they want nothing of the bills" about a 51/40 split with lots of "death panel" and "government control"-type Fox propaganda out there, I don't see how your statement can last, once people start chewing over the details.

Independents poll all over the map on different parts of the reform bills and are the most volatile. 80% of them want universal coverage, for example (Kaiser poll.)

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Pflynn, I'm pretty sure that the 35% of the population that is hard-core, anti-universal-coverage, and anti-Obama, agrees with you.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

The people who have chewed over the details are the ones who don't want it for a myriad of reasons. Not the least of which are all of the pre-exsisting entitlement programs that are so far in the red that the nation is quite literally on the brink of financial destruction. You guys are like irresponsible teenagers with dad's credit card when dad has been out of work for years and no prospects on the horizon. Grow up! Government produces no wealth. They are just like the Wall Street bankers who suck wealth out of the system while providing nothing in return.

As Obama and friends spend us into oblivion our savings will evaporate with the dollar and our standard of life will decline. This is what the left wants and actually argues for it from the "green" point of view. The country simply isn't there with you. Now is the time for grownups and not more moralizing baby boomer crusades.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 17, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

That's not true of Ezra, who's chewed over it more than most.

On entitlement programs, Social Security is not a big problem, and Medicare, which is the big problem, begins to be addressed by these reform bills.

Government spending goes right back into the cycle of money, and the private profits that are generated are invested for economic growth and wealth. There is no difference.

I agree with you about the bankers.

Obama is not the big spender. Here is the breakdown of the causes of the debt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CBO_Forecast_Changes_for_2009-2012.png

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Lee_A_Arnold,

"That's not the real problem. The Republicans don't want this bill to pass because it's got Republican ideas from 40 years of bipartisan discussions and the Dems are going to get the political credit."

You are right on the money here. The legislation as written now is heavily influenced by Republican thought and Democratic compromise, it will become increasingly popular once enacted, and the sad irony for the Republicans is that they have lost all chance to claim a rightful share in the credit, thanks to their party line voting and the stubborn insistence on pretending they were locked out of policy discussions.

The strategy has them self-painted into their own corner, and the Democrats will "own" the final product, assuming they manage to agree among themselves on a final package.

It is interesting to see both the number of conservative comments that have been made in this thread, and also the level of hyperbole that many of the comments contain ("gently manuvering the yolk of slavery," etc.). Methinks that despite all of the obituaries for HCR that have been written by the right at this blog since Massachusetts, the opposition's panic about the very real possibility of final passage is now quickly rising to a fever pitch.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 17, 2010 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Should Obama be reelected NO 52% Yes 44% CNN.

Favor Democrat HCR bill - 38.1% RCP Avg.

Of the 47 million uninsured that are used to justify this bill, how many are pimps, prostitutes, thieves, drug dealers and others who earn substantial incomes in the underground economy and don't pay income taxes?

"April 13, 2009
by Dennis Chaptman
With the tax-filing deadline just days away, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert in the underground economy says that unpaid tax liability in the United States has likely ballooned to more than $600 billion.

Edgar Feige, an economics professor emeritus, says that is a sign that the underground economy in the United States has grown considerably and that unreported income now amounts to between $2 trillion and $2.25 trillion annually."

Assuming an average annual income of $100,000 the number is 20 million to 22.5 million.

How many are illegal aliens?

"In October 2008, the illegal immigrant population stood at 11.9 million according to the Pew Hispanic Center."

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP IS SUBSTANTIALLY LESS THAN THE 47 MILLION USED TO JUSTIFY HCR LEGISLATION.

A BILL TO HELP THE TRULY NEEDY AND PREVENT ABUSIVE PRACTICES BY INSURANCE COMPANIES COULD BE WRITTEN IN 25 PAGES. THE OTHER THOUSANDS OF PAGES ARE PURE MALEVOLENCE. MORE PEOPLE ARE HARMED THAN ARE HELPED.

THE DEMOCRATS BILL WILL RESULT IN MORE LAWYERS AND BUREAUCRATS AND FEWER DOCTORS, NURSES AND HOSPITALS.

WE WILL ALL BE PAYING MORE AND RECEIVING LESS.

Posted by: Xdem | February 17, 2010 4:42 AM | Report abuse

"Pushing into the end zone" is actually illegal. Matt Leinart did that with Reggie Bush against Notre Dame. Look what happened to both sides. The Hail Mary works better.

Posted by: j_brendan | February 17, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Ezra:
1. Pelosi doesn't have the votes. Her majority died with Murtha. Some reports have her 100 votes short.
2. Even if she had the votes, reconciliation can be a VERY long, drawn out process. There are no limitations on the number of amendments that can be offered. They'd still be voting on health care on Oct. 31st.
3. Even if THAT was a viable option, it would still be necessary for the House members to believe that that would happen.

Conclusion? Good luck with all that.

Posted by: fmcdermott1 | February 17, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

It's simple -- drop the mandate, while keeping the community rating requirement (no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or life time cap) that Republicans say they support.

Why should the Democrats be carrying water for the private health carriers, who are the main proponents of mandates? That's the Republicans' job.

Posted by: mnjam | February 16, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse


If you do as mnjam suggests California's Anthem increase will look like a walk in the park. Some people just don't get it.


Lee,

suggestions that the anti-HCR sentiment now is due to the end of the public option are very overstated by you. Sure some of it is there but you're giving progressives way too much credit. Their size and scope is not nearly what you wish or believe them to be.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 17, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, but I didn't write that it accounts for all of the sentiment. And Rasmussen disagrees with you that concern for a public option for nonprofit insurance is restricted to progressives.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

My goodness. Social Security isn't a problem? There is no sense in conversing with you.

You guys are children. I'm not pointing to any particular party but to a generation. Democrats and Republicans of the boomer generation have been a disaster for this country unable to pragmaticaly guide the nation through any challenge it has faced. You were developmentaly arrested by the good times you grew up in and your own sense of self importance.

Obama and the soon to be removed congress are the death throws of a failed generation. Gen Xers will be left to deal with a stark reality which is nothing new to us after watching the older generation squander what those before them built.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 17, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Pflynn, you may be part of the hard-core 35% who doesn't believe Congressional Budget Office projections either, but here it is:

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8877/12-13-LTBO.pdf

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Lee wrote:
Government spending goes right back into the cycle of money, and the private profits that are generated are invested for economic growth and wealth. There is no difference.

________________________________________

Another simplistic argument. Wealth grows from production, dollars are made and not recycled.

Government jobs are an excuse for taking from the private sector producer and paying a government bureaucracy which is typically an inefficent unionized voting bloc. If you have $1.00 taxed from someone and give it to someone else to spend for doing the bloated and unnecessary work of a bureaucrat it is nothing more than a dollar changing hands.

Simple concept here; when an entrepreneur makes their fortune in the private sector they have a certain mindset about the world and about competition. They usually strive to get ahead and work very hard to achieve that end. In doing so they create WEALTH which is the tide that lifts all boats. It is what drives the standard of living higher and higher. It is what leads to technological innovations, jobs and a vibrant economy. Sucking capital out of the system to pay for mismanaged federal programs or additional overpaid bureaucratic bloat is a road to ruin.

In a nutshell our marketplace creates wealth when competition drives innovation through the spectrum of service and industry. In turn this increases productivity creating ideas and businesses that you can't even fathom. When you suck money out of the system you naturally limit it's possibilities and its ability to grow and or compete in the global markets.

Your way of thinking is exactly what the titans of American industry want in that there will never be competition for them and they too can get cozy with the government as we've seen with GE. They can become uncompetitve, slow footed fossils and be declared too big to fail like GM. More tax dollars dumped into the trough to feed the corporate welfare.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 17, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

It really angers me that after all that has been discussed in the last year and a half about HCR, our Washington politicians are still at step one. Do they think if they repeat the same things over and over that American's will finally accept what they are shoving down our throats??? This subject should be put aside.(Like our politicians said it would) So that we can concentrate on jobs and the economy. What happened??? Did they think if they wait a couple weeks, America will forget what happened before??

Washington really should read the posts from last weekend and previous. Americans have been screaming louder and louder about what we think of Obamacare. Start listening or all of those in Washington will be searching for a non-existent job in the near future!!!

*Independent for change! 2010/2012

Posted by: Intuition1010 | February 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Pflynn, you may be part of the hard-core 35% who doesn't believe Congressional Budget Office projections either, but here it is:

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8877/12-13-LTBO.pdf
__________________________________________

Lee,

I want you to explain to me what a CBO budget outlook from 2007 has to do with our discussion regarding social security's 14.1 TRILLION dollars of unfunded liability.

"Unfunded liability" means that the US government has not determined a way to pay for it. This means that the promise of the program will either be broken or the taxpayer (again) will be expected to pick up the tab.

It's telling that you're blowing off the problems of Social Security, while pointing out the disaster of Medicare while championing the creation another government run debacle.

Posted by: pflynn1 | February 17, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"The White House even went along in August by suggesting it would take the public option off the table to get Blue Dog support. The result was an immediate drop in Obama's job approval on healthcare
Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold"

How can you rely on 6-7 month data on public option support, when few knew what it would entail except that some would get free insurance? The current polls show that a government-run public option, government-regulated market or status quo, the public are supported by 37%, 30% and 30% of the group.
The claim that HCR is not supported because it's not liberal enough is so progressive fantasy. A fantasy like taking a absolute control of Congress with blue dogs victories then expecting the new puppies to follow Pelosi's agenda without question.

Posted by: cprferry | February 17, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

cfperry is exactly right. WHen posed different ways the public option gets different responses. If its posed that it will eventually lead to single payer, government run healthcare then the support drops through the floor because almost NO ONE has faith that the government can actually run healthcare for all the population well (see Medicare and Medicaid fraud figures).

When you've got partisans asking the questions you'll obviously get partisan answers and that goes for whatever side of the public option debate you're on.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 17, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Pflynn, $14.1 trillion, over what period of time? 75 years, or the infinite horizon? -- Over either timeframe, it sounds like mere peanuts!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Cprferry, the poll you cite says that, now that people KNOW that the public option is OFF the table, 67% still want government intervention (37 + 30.) And over half of them (37) STILL want the public option! I don't see how that supports your argument.

It would help if you put the link for the poll, so I could highlight it, copy and paste it to see for myself.

The last WaPo poll I can find (October,) about the public option only, goes 57/40 in Favor:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/19/AR2009101902451.html

Surely respondents knew a half-year ago what the "public option" meant, or else they liked it anyway, despite the fact that it was it was hyped-up 24/7 by the hardcore haters on Fox to mean a government takeover of providers. Here is FiveThirtyEight's entry on public option polls last June:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/public-support-for-public-option.html

Discussion of what each poller was asking is underneath the graph.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Visionbrker, the public option is very unlikely to lead to single payer, since very few people would stand for that! But I realize that's the insurance companies' propaganda point.

I don't see how you could convince Americans that they should be disallowed from adding private coverage, and I don't see why you would WANT to disallow them. It makes no sense at all.

So the public option almost certainly leads to a two-tier system, which is where we should be, anyhow.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Lee,
You're really stretching to make 37% sound like a majority. It isn't.
And the October 57% poll you count was asked using the loaded term 'compete' when by all accounts it planned to 'compete' by striking at provider pay-outs. (Still 31% strongly opposed it.)
A more fair question is the 'of which three options, do you prefer' question asked in December. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_121509.html
37% - 30% - 30%. The differences between status quo, government regulations and a public option were insignificantly small.

How can you claim people knew what the public option would entail back in August when the Democrats had to hold town halls to explain their rough vision for it? Early support for the public option was largely due to the promises that it would lower premiums (oops) and provide for free insurance for some.

Posted by: cprferry | February 17, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

sorry but it was very hard to get that image of President Obama speaking before a union group about the PO being the first step towards that out of the collective conservatives heads. You do understand trust is an issue here, right?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 17, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Cprferry, It competes by "striking at provider payouts," such as Medicare does? What percentage opposes Medicare?

And at the same time as that WashPost poll, in December:

Thompson-Reuters, 59.9% in favor of a public option:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B20OL20091203

CBS/NYTimes, 59% in favor of a public option:

http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/poll_Obama_120909.pdf?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Cprferry: "How can you claim people knew what the public option would entail back in August when the Democrats had to hold town halls to explain their rough vision for it?"

Not about the public option, they didn't. Even though there had been plenty of misinformation by the hardcore haters at Fox. If you read through the President's townhall transcripts last year, the "public option" never occupied more than one sentence of a 30-to-40 minute presentation.

The townhalls didn't have to bother to try to explain it. You get 60 to 70% in favor, because a non-profit insurance option would save at least a nickel to a dime out of every dollar, to spend on actual care -- and if premiums go up, that's even more nickels saved.

They also hate the insurance companies, with good reason.

Now the insurers want to jack it up another 30 or 40%!

Take another "public option" poll!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, with the exception of Canada, every other "single-payer" system in the world allows purchase of private insurance on top.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

actually Canada allows it too. And that's never been my issue with single payer run by the government. My issue has always been (and I believe we've spoken on this before at length) that I don't trust the government with my tax money that they'll increase by another 15-20% to pay for it when Medicare and Medicaid has such horrible efficencies when it comes to fraud.


And when will you understand that Anthem isn't jacking up the rates 39%. Costs are jacking up the rates 39% because people are opting out of coverage. A mandate would smooth those bumps out. Then put some real cost control in there on ALL players in the marketplace and we'd be fine.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 17, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but this gets back to my original point. Much of the 40/52 spread in the "Favor/Oppose health care plan" are people who would live with a mandate -- IF they don't have to pay the money to private insurers. This is not merely a big emotion, it is clearly a deal-breaker for a lot of people. Not all of them, of course, but I just provided a lot of inferential evidence that this is likely to be a large portion. I believe the Congressional Democrats are making a fatal political error in not paying attention to this.

I'm surprised that the private insurers haven't headed this off by getting behind a Swiss-style system. How greedy are these morons?

We don't need the profit motive to avoid fraud. We could double the Medicare administrative overhead to provide investigation and enforcement, give rewards for tips, and STILL save 5-10% for spending on actual healthcare.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

no not a LOT of people. Progressives. Progressives have a problem with that.

I love how you can call them "morons" yet you don't understand the idea of why people can't "pay more" to cover a pre-existing condition. Get an actuarial degree and then you can call them morons if you like.

If we could simply double the fraud depts then why haven't we done that already? Fraud isn't a new thing. I'll tell you why (and I've told you this before) its because Medicare gets doctors to accept their lower rates based upon paying them at a speed with which ajudication can not happen (15 days from receipt). Those that commit fraud know this and they thrive on it. If Medicare actually CONTRACTED providers with medicare instead of just accepting and paying on whatever was submitted then Medicare's overhead would go up towards what private insurers is and liberals would lose a major talking point for single payer.

What medicare does is like accepting someone's check when there's no verification if the check is good. No wonder they have the fraud they do.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 17, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr: "no not a LOT of people. Progressives. Progressives have a problem with that."

--You must be kidding. Who is in favor of a mandate, without a public option, besides you and the private insurers??

"I love how you can call them "morons" yet you don't understand the idea of why people can't "pay more" to cover a pre-existing condition."

--People pay more for being in higher risk pools. But I didn't write that. I wrote that the insurers are morons for not proposing a Swiss-style system. Why do they hate America?

Although they are ALSO morons for announcing a rate hike before a reform vote. Even the morons at Fox News told them that!

"Medicare's overhead would go up towards what private insurers is and liberals would lose a major talking point for single payer."

--No, we'd still save a nickel or so on every dollar, to spend on actual care. And that's a lot of nickels!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Lee,
Forcibly shifting costs to providers is an act of competition. Private insurance have no such option. Argue what you want about the sense to strike out the very providers, to say the public plan would 'compete' is disingenuous.

Posted by: cprferry | February 17, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

... which makes for a loaded poll question.

Lee, the "public option" wasn't even defined then and wasn't until hard issues like who would be eligible and what role the government would have. Before that it was a fancy idea that promised to cut costs and provide for the poor with no understanding of its costs, impact or methods.

The public option only polls well when colored in fanciful language like access or competition.

Posted by: cprferry | February 17, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Cprferry, you are mixing economics issues with polling issues, and my concern was mostly with Democratic strategy going forward, after the manner of Ezra's post.

But just let me write that I don't think the "public option" is a slam-dunk anti-competitive move by the government. It can and should be restricted to a basic coverage plan, it will be restricted for a number of reasons, and so it would leave lots of room for private insurers.

And on the polls I still not convinced that you are right. The public option was well-defined enough seven months ago that Senators Nelson, Landrieu, LIncoln, and Lieberman came out against it, by JUNE.

The only other thing big in the papers in the summer was the whole "death panel" nonsense, which has mostly blown over.

But let's look at it a different way: As you note, that Dec. WashPost/ABC poll put the support numbers for government-run public option, government-regulated market, or status quo, at 37%, 30% and 30%.

Well, closer study of the current health reform shows that it IS "gov't-regulated market." If the current "oppose/favor healthcare plan" is at 52/40, surely some of the people in favor of a "gov't-regulated market" must be in that 40%. Of course we know the 30% status quo people are against it. So where are the 37% hard core in favor of the "public option" located?

From the tenor of the comments here and elsewhere over the last six months, I think many of them are against it, or have joined the independent undecided.

And after all of this anti-reform hoopla, it's only a 12-point spread right now. So I'm sticking with my original guess that there's a way for the Dems to pass a reform bill and come out ahead.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 17, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Well written article and I enjoy seeing you on TV. Why republicans are so against the American people in need of solutions for the skyrocketing health care costs and the unemployment that we face is beyond me? I would be very happy if they would use their efforts for the majority vote and not the 60 vote filibuster that republicans have used as a weapon repeatedly.

Posted by: equalon | February 21, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The conservative republican democrats did stand in the way of getting the Public Option that 80% of America does support. Lincoln, Landrieu, Lieberman and Nelson stood against the good that health care reform will provide. These conserva-dems did well while Bush was giving big giveaways to the rich, but now that Democrats are there to clean things up and make responsible choices like improving health care they did not want success for this country that Democrats are working for. They belong with all republicans who hope President Obama fails at everything and that America fails too. Republicans have become mean, meaner,and the very meanest since Bush and Cheney ran over everyone.

Posted by: equalon | February 21, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

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