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Pieces falling into place for vote on health-care reform

readyingforhcvote.JPG

Over the past 48 hours or so, you've seen the pieces falling into place on the path forward for health-care reform. Timetables have leaked, putting passage somewhere in mid- to late March. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that his chamber would move forward first so long as it had assurances from the Senate that a reconciliation package would be expeditiously passed. Today, Sen. Tom Harkin emerged from a meeting with Reid, Baucus, Dodd, Durbin, Schumer and Murray and said that the Senate is onboard with that strategy, and will offer "a convincing gesture" to assure House Democrats that they'll uphold their end of the bargain. Kent Conrad, who will run the reconciliation process, has been loudly defending it, and even Lieberman is professing himself "open" to reconciliation.

In an added bit of good fortune, Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to highlight the inanity of Republican obstructionism has made it easier for Democrats to explain why they need to turn to reconciliation to assure the up-or-down vote that the White House is saying health-care reform deserves. And Barack Obama is scheduled to give a speech soon in which he'll say, "I don’t know how this plays politically, but I know it’s right. And so I ask Congress to finish its work, and I look forward to signing this reform into law.”

I've said many times before that health care passes in a vote or dies in silence. If Democrats didn't think they had the numbers, they wouldn't bring the bill to the floor. Instead, they'd swear their fealty to the project but turn their attention to other priorities and schedule their speeches on other subjects. But that's not happening. Democrats are setting up their process, giving speeches and interviews, adding Republican ideas, and setting new deadlines. They're bringing this to a vote. And that means they're confident that they'll win the vote.

Photo credit: Getty.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 3, 2010; 1:56 PM ET
 
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Next: Did Republicans use reconciliation for significantly bipartisan bills?

Comments

I'm still nervous about the House -- Arcuri's yes-to-no switch doesn't augur well. Here's hoping your gut is right and mine's wrong.

Posted by: scarlota | March 3, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I have been nervous for most of the year on this. I just want it finished. I hope, hope, hope you are right.

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

i still wonder if the house gets these assurances and signs the senate bill and for some crazy, outlandish, never would happen reason the reconciliation fix doesn't get through the two chambers does the President sign the original bill?

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This bill will pass, and it will be hugely popular. Republicans and Democrats who vote against the bill will have a lot of explaining to do in November.

Posted by: opinionpieces | March 3, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

This is looking good. Even if the side car doesn't go through - the house will be pissed - but the President will sign it.

Think about that for a moment 30 MILLION people given health care, that's huge, and it will be this congress and Obama that made it happen - how can that not be a rallying cry for people to vote in November.

I hope this goes through.

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | March 3, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope you people are wrong. This bill will cause costs to increase and lead us to European style unemployment (ie, 10% when the economy is booming). It is also generational theft if, like the rest of the Democrats' programs, it is not paid for. I predict that if it passes, the Dems will lose their majorities in the House and Senate and we will have a generation of Republicans in power. This bill is proof that Dems just want socialism and everyone to be dependent on the government (just like all the welfare queens in America).

Posted by: columbiaheights | March 3, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Warren Buffett says scrap the bill because it doesn't effectively address costs. Of course, anyone who has kept up with the debate that doesn't have partisan views and functions with the mental capacity of at least a 14 year old knows that this bill doesn't address rising costs.

I trust Warren Buffett more so than any of these idealogical libs.

Posted by: Magox | March 3, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The House leadership can't figure out how to resolve the abortion issue. And that can't be fixed through reconciliation.

"Think about that for a moment 30 MILLION people given health care, that's huge"

Not true - 30 million FORCED TO BUY health INSURANCE with varying degrees of subsidies. big difference than free health care.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | March 3, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Magox: try telling the truth for once. Buffett said to pass this bill. He did not say scrap it.

If you trust Buffett, then you would want this bill passed.

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Magox @ March 3, 2010 2:31 PM wrote "Warren Buffett says scrap the bill because it doesn't effectively address costs."

Actually he said that he would prefer a stronger bill (as would I) in some respects. But given the choice of what we have (as the Republicans advocate), this bill is much better. A slight correction, but your post was misleading.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | March 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

opinionpieces,

you keep telling yourself that it'll be popular in November 2010 when 99% of the bill isn't even in effect yet and most of the goodies (subsidies) come 4 years down the road and the taxes start real early. That's some fancy new math some of you have.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans and others are so concerned about costs, then why do they oppose a public option that will provide competition and why do they continue stand up for business as usual for the private insurance companies that have given us the most expensive and inefficient health care in the world?

Posted by: jbentley4 | March 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

How will passing this bill result in it being "hugely popular?"

By almost every poll taken in the last three months, the American people do not want this bill, and think it will be an albatross on the country.

It doesn't address actual health-care costs, and puts big government in charge of our future health-care issues. Please look at the WaPo opinion article written today about Singapore... and tell me you really want this version of health-care passed.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

michiganmaine,

you're being a little dishonest too about what Buffett said. He said he'd prefer the bill to the status quo but would rather there be much more focus on cost containment in there and all that's been politically sold off to make this somewhat palatable.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"Magox: try telling the truth for once. Buffett said to pass this bill. He did not say scrap it. "

Wrong, he did say the bill should be scrapped. He said it right after he said he preferred the current bill to nothing. He did say the bill should be scrapped for one that controls costs though. Claiming otherwise is a lie.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

columbiaheights, we currently have higher unemployment than Germany, France, and the UK, and Germany has had to deal with 20 years of absorbing a Communist country into its own economy.

We are adopting a health care reform that is much more conservative than the Netherlands, and as of last fall, they had an unemployment rate of under 4%.

*you keep telling yourself that it'll be popular in November 2010 when 99% of the bill isn't even in effect yet*

The thing about the health care reform is that all the most popular provisions take effect immediately.

Posted by: constans | March 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Bob65, I think the bill should be scrapped in favor of a French or Netherlands-style health care reform system. But since that's not going to happen, and because the alternative is nothing, I support passing the Senate bill, just like Warren Buffet does.

Posted by: constans | March 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: Nope. I was not dishonest at all. Read my words. I said, "Buffett said to pass this bill. He did not say scrap it." And that is true. He said to pass it, he never said to scrap it. I know that he wishes the bill was different. But he did say to pass it and not scrap it. Nothing "dishonest" about that. So you can defend the real dishonesty of claiming that he wanted to scrap it if you want. I will stick to the truth.

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The costs of healthcare are not driven from the insurance brokers, but from the actual administration of care to the populations. There is so much redundancy built into how doctors see and treat patients, how offices handle administrative work, and the promotion of medicines & devices, that a "public option" does not solve. It just creates an insurance policy that high-level doctors will not see patients for. A public option will create a lower premium to be covered for insurance, but that does not mean a doctor will accept that insurance plan.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 3, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure what Ezra Klein is smoking but we are a long way from passage of a health care bill. Remember Kerry- first he voted yes then he voted no.

Well the moderates in the House are facing that issue with having to pass the Senate Bill. I am sure the Republicans have the commercials in the can already. So and So votes for earmarks of hundreds of millions for Nebraska and Louisiana. Let's not forget what is in the Senate Bill.

I hope we get some kind of health care bill passed but I wouldn't bet on reconcilliation, where apparently you only need 51 votes in the Senate but unlimited amounts of amendments can be offered, just yet.

Posted by: peterdc | March 3, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. The dems are going to drink the Obama kool-aid and die in the mid-term elections. I've never seen a party commit political suicide before. It's bizarre. It really makes you wonder if the White House wouldn't really mind a republican congress to run against in 2012. If anybody thinks the electorate is going to give the dems a standing ovation after all this - they are living in la-la land.

Posted by: deacon777 | March 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"unlimited amounts of amendments can be offered"

and those amendments do not have to be germane. and if accepted by a simple majority, the bill would have to go back to the House.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | March 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

yeah opinion pieces, this bill is less popular than waterboarding right now, by a country mile, and the democrats purposefully put off most of the benefits in order to disguise its TRUE price tag and contribution to future debt and tax increased ($2.5 trillion between 2014 and 2023).

Posted by: dummypants | March 3, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"unlimited amounts of amendments can be offered"

and those amendments do not have to be germane. and if accepted by a simple majority, the bill would have to go back to the House.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | March 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Though not likely, Congressional liberals may never convince the far left base that they've done all they can until they put it up for a vote. So, yes, it may save face to silently table an effort that can't pass, but liberals may need to show the base they've done all that can be done.

And just because the Dems are moving now doesn't mean a vote will ever materialize. The bill is not popular. It will not be getting more popular. Liberals are dropping like flies in polls and elections.

Obama says "do the right thing." Pelosi says "do it even though you'll lose your job," even though hers is safe.

But Blue Dogs don't universally believe this *is* the right thing. And *that* won't be changing between now and the vote, if it happens at all.

Posted by: cpurick | March 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

michiganmaine,

actually I'd prefer you tell the WHOLE truth, not just what suits your argument.

He also said that rather than start with expansion of coverage he'd rather contain costs first. See below:

"I believe in insuring more people but I don't believe in insuring more people UNTIL they attack the cost aspect of it."

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

In 2006,2007, Mr Obama says he will need a super majority, now only a majority. What does ths man ever say that is not a lie.(Ole Joe Wilson was right). That said, all pols are dishonest, it's only a piece of luck that we have GOP obstructionism!!To those who want ObamaCare with or without GOP provisions, what are you thinking? Look at the Post Office,Social Security, Medicare...or take a simple drive to your local VA hospital....GOVERNMENT IS NOT ONLY THE PROPLEM.....IT KNOWS IT THE PROBLEM. The public would not accept the level of quality from trash collectors that we will be given if govenrnment get control of healthcare. To those of you who believe healthcare is is right, show me in the constitution. Our rights do not come from government and all real Americans realize that. Let me be clear, if you believe healthcare is a right---you are un-American. This healthcare unconstitutional.
Listen people, America is the land of opportunity...either to susced or to fail. You are created equal at birth, where you go from there is up to you, not me, not the government.

Posted by: hpenn2 | March 3, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

When Congress passed Medicare in 1965, it said the cost would be $12 billion by 1990. 1990 actual cost: $107 billion. Cost today: about $500 billion.

And now the government is going to take over the entire health care system of the country ......and lower costs! That's right folks--the folks that have bankrupted social security, the post office, amtrak, medicare, medicaid are going to lower the costs this time.

We are about to bankrupt the country and make everyone worse off.....well everyone except for the liberal mooches who think it is okay to plunder one group so that they can get something free.

There is no greed like liberal greed.

Posted by: hartwr1 | March 3, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

*you keep telling yourself that it'll be popular in November 2010 when 99% of the bill isn't even in effect yet*

The thing about the health care reform is that all the most popular provisions take effect immediately.

Posted by: constans | March 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

THOSE LIARS AT PBS!! HOW DARE THEY!!

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2009/12/health-care-bills-set-gradual-timeline-for-phasing-in-reform.html

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

this bill is a steaming pile of garabge which extends to the current broken system both in philosophy and size.

an individual mandate is a terrible impingment on liberty and financial burden on our 20's somethings at the same time that they are entering a tough job market and we are telling them that they better start saving for their own retirement becuase that other great unsustainable progressive entitlement, social security, wont be there for them when they are 65 or 70.

that's why obama was firmly against it when he was campaigning for the white house. now he doesnt seem so worried about throwing someone in jail or fining them if they dont buy health insurance at his command.

if this was state government mandates (like car insurance) or only costs a few hundred dollars a year (like car insurance) or there was simply a straight forward way to avoid it other than leaving the country (like car insurance) then it would be exceptable. but it fails on all three counts and americans wont stand for it and the supreme court might very well find it unconstitutional. with good reason too, if this is the power of the federal government under the commerce clause then the feds power is literally plenary in terms of forcing americans to buy any and every product under the sun.

a GM in every driveway mandate? is the individual mandate stands we will have to "trust them", which essentially means you have no consittutional rights at all.

Posted by: dummypants | March 3, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama is turning out to be an ordinary politician, the type whose words don't mean anything!

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-flashback-you-need-60-votes-get-something-significant-happen

Posted by: darkskin1977 | March 3, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

From your lips to God's ears, Ezra.

Since Republicans apparently think passing this bill is going to be awful, just awful, for the American public and is going to sink their popularity and voters will punish them, you'd think they'd want the bill passed. Surely they're not just concern trolling, egads. Speaking of trolls, I don't know how exactly this blog got saddled with so many. There are lots of right-wing blogs who parlay ALL CAPS, SOSHULISM!!111!!!, and misspellings far less incongruously then among the commentary here.

Posted by: Jenn2 | March 3, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: Look, I just made a simple response of Buffett's bottom line against the lies of FOX and friends (like above). You called it "dishonest". It was not. What I said was true, even if I did not say every single word that Buffett said. There was nothing dishonest about my statement. Why don't you spend your time attacking the real lies instead of defending Fox parrots?

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

NoVAHockey "'unlimited amounts of amendments can be offered' and those amendments do not have to be germane. and if accepted by a simple majority, the bill would have to go back to the House."

Actually this is not accurate in my understanding. The amendments must be germane, and it is the VP that gets to decide. So while this may be painful, it is not a permanent roadblock.

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that his chamber would move forward first so long as it had assurances from the Senate that a reconciliation package would be expeditiously passed."

Oh really? Because Roll Call has it that "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday laid out a path forward for passing health care legislation that wouldn’t require House Democrats to first swallow a Senate plan that they largely oppose." It would seem that Hoyer is trying to figure out how to pass reconciliation first, but does concede that it's "more complicated" to reconcile a bill that hasn't passed yet.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 3, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"They're bringing this to a vote. And that means they're confident that they'll win the vote."

They're a long way from bringing "this" to a vote. They don't even know yet what "this" is.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 3, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

michiganmaine,

I'm not defending FOX. They're a bunch of partisan hacks which I think most sensible folks that aren't going to tea party conventions realize. I'm just saying if you want to say FOX is distorting the truth (which they are), you really should say EVERYTHING about what Buffett said not just the points that make your argument. Kind of like how Ezra posted a link from Media Matters instead of the actual link from CNBC's website.

Its disingenious at the very least.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Yo, visionbrkr,
I am not going to say everything that Buffett said. I was just saying the bottom line of his statement regarding voting for this bill or not. Because THAT is what was in contradiction to the previous poster's point (a clear lie). I don't need to quote him in entirety to do that. Nothing dishonest about that.
You really make me wonder about your goal, here, in continually harping on this.

Posted by: michiganmaine | March 3, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

45,000 people die EVERY year due to lack of access to health care. We have a moral imperative to reform this crap system that bestows obscene wealth on insurance company execs while throwing those who need help the most under the bus. If the insurance CEOs were doing such a fantastic job then why are rates rising double digits every year?

Posted by: sylkyj | March 3, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

If the gov'mint can force us to buy health insurance whether we wish to do so or not, can it not then force us to buy a General Motors car, or one of Obama's books, or a new outfit for his wife?
How they love it, liberals, when it comes to forcing people into what they dont want!

Posted by: LeePefley1 | March 3, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sooner or later, Americans will have access to universal healthcare insurance, which citizens of all other advanced nations have, for a long time, taken for granted.

Posted by: gpcarvalho | March 3, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't imagine that any independent or moderate voter has a favorable view of this episode. I fall into that category, and even support reform, but this isn't reform - it's simply expanding coverage without any offsetting reduction of costs. We don't even have a realistic cost estimate because there's no CBO comparison of X years of benefits compared to X years of increased taxes.

Posted by: 1ofamillion | March 3, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"I can't imagine that any independent or moderate voter has a favorable view of this episode."

i think they will have a greatly favorable view of this when it is passed! they will be helping millions of fellow americans....and that is what our country is supposed to be about!
there will be good will and celebration for those who are capable of feeling good will and celebration for their neighbors who are in compromised situations.
and people will respect barack obama for remaining calm and civil to the recalcitrant and meanspirited people on both sides who tried to sabotage this bill.
time to get out our party hats:-)

Posted by: jkaren | March 3, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Columbiaheights
But it is not generation theft to fund a war based on lies and kill both US troops and Iraqis, provide huge tax credits to the rich, stagnate and denigrate the middle class for the last 8 years?

Posted by: bgreston | March 3, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

(already wearing my party hat right now)

Posted by: jkaren | March 3, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama is showing why he was the right choice. He has the courage to proceed to do what is right for the country rather than cave in to the far right attack machine. I hope there are enough Democrats in congress who will show similar courage. I believe the American people will recognize the value of this historic legislation once they understand it. Of course, the Limbaugh/Beck/Fox News crowd will never get it. If the Democrats are going to lose seats in 2010, it might as well be for doing something worthwhile rather than doing nothing but shaking in their boots because the teabaggers yell at them.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | March 3, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

When is Obama going to stop pretending that he's not political? Clearly he is ONLY listening to his political advisers. If he actually listened to his economic advisers he would never support this bill.

This is not a moral issue. This bill will degrade the quality of healthcare services for the majority of Americans. This is about power.

How are strict healthcare regulations and universal coverage working out in Massachusetts? A real reporter would analyze the consequences of those foolish policy choices and ponder whether results merit a Federal trial.

This blog is like Fox News but with even dumber policy preferences. It's like watching a zombie movie.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | March 3, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"If the gov'mint can force us to buy health insurance whether we wish to do so or not, can it not then force us to buy a General Motors car, or one of Obama's books, or a new outfit for his wife?"

no,no..dont by mrs obama a new outfit...you must buy your wife or significant other a new outfit in honor of the soon to be passed health care reform bill!
you will want to look your best for this joyous and long awaited celebration! and be sure to pin an obama button on the outfit for that special day!!!!
i am!!!!!!!! * * * * * * **

Posted by: jkaren | March 3, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"Think about that for a moment 30 MILLION people given health care, that's huge, and it will be this congress and Obama that made it happen - how can that not be a rallying cry for people to vote in November."

_______________

Because the main parts of the bill don't go into effect until 2014. So those 30 million people will be SOL until then....

I'm pretty sure that the lady who has breast cancer today, and no health insurance, isn't jumping for joy...

Posted by: boosterprez | March 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone that reads this blog understand the difference between insurance and a pre-paid service plan?

How should insurance companies respond to rising healthcare costs? Should they ignore their responsibility to shareholders and not adjust premiums to reflect these rising costs? Would you prefer that they treat their shareholders like Congress treats taxpayers?

If you throw enough pixie dust in the air everything will be okay....

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | March 3, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Billionaire investor Warren Buffett advised President Barack Obama on Monday to scrap the health care bill and start over.


In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said the current bill does not focus on controlling costs, which he sees as the central problem that must be addressed to reform the system. He added that while he does not like the Senate bill, he’d vote for it in preference to doing nothing.


“What we have now is untenable over time,” said Buffett, an early supporter of Obama’s candidacy. “That kind of a cost compared to the rest of the world is really like a tapeworm eating, you know, at our economic body.”


“We have a health system that, in terms of costs, is really out of control,” he added. “And if you take this line and you project what has been happening into the future, we will get less and less competitive. So we need something else.”


But while Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, applauded Obama for taking up the reform effort, he said that “unfortunately, we came up with a bill that really doesn't attack the cost situation that much.”


Asked if he would be in favor of scrapping the Senate health care bill, Buffett responded: “I would be.”


If the president were to start over, Buffett would advise him to “just show this chart of what's been happening and say this is the tapeworm that's eating at American competitiveness. And I would say that one way or another, we're going to attack costs, costs, costs, just like they talk about jobs, jobs, jobs.”


Buffett urged Obama to say that “we're going to cut off all the kinds of things like the 800,000 special people in Florida or the Cornhusker kickback, as they called it, or the Louisiana Purchase, and we're going to — we're going to get rid of the nonsense. We're just going to focus on costs and we're not going to dream up 2,000 pages of other things. And I would say, as president, `I'm going to come back to you with something that's going to do something about this, because we have to do it.’”


Like Democrats in Congress, Buffett would like to expand access to health insurance, but he said he does not “believe in insuring more people till you attack the cost aspect of this.”


“If it was a choice today between plan A, which is what we've got, or plan B, what is in front of — the Senate bill, I would vote for the Senate bill,” Buffett said. “But I would much rather see a plan C that really attacks costs. And I think that's what the American public wants to see. I mean, the American public is not behind this bill. And we need the American public behind the bill, because it's going to have to do some tough things.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/33693.html#ixzz0h9VTatU5

Posted by: boosterprez | March 3, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Ezra. Obama would not have spoken the way he did (with great confidence and authority) unless he knew they have the votes.

It will still be ugly. But even the Republicans know it is over. They're now talking about how the Democrats will be punished in November for passing reform . . .

As for Buffet -- This story is making me a little crazy. Buffet did not urge Democrats to scrap the bill and start over.

I listened to the interview and know Buffet (not personally.)

Ultimately, he said "I'm not a health care expert" and he pointed to people like Atul Gawande as experts.

Buffet knows what he knows--and what he doesn't know. That's one reason why he's so successful. He doesn't invest in companies he doesn't understand.

The reporters at CNBC were trying to pin him down; they wanted him to say something that he didn't want to say. (I also know and have written about the reporters at CNBC).

Buffet is right: Gawande is an expert, and he understands what needs to be done to control costs. If you read the legislation, you'll see that it opens the door to doing what needs to be done.

Posted by: mahar1 | March 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The bill, and therefore the CBO, makes two huge assumptions: that Congress will have the political will to cut Medicare $500 billion, and that people will buy health insurance under the new mandate.

Neither will likely happen.

Congress is cowardly. They haven't been able to make those cuts, even thoug a law was passed back in 2002 to make yearly cuts in Medicare. Since 2003, they've taken the politically expediant route and forfeited their duty. Obama is equally cowardly for putting off the biggest driver of revenues until 2018, which is when the new Cadillac tax kicks in. He won't even be President at that time, and yet he is counting on that congress to enact those taxes. Very unfair.

The penalty for not getting health insurance is meager...I believe it's around $300. Hmmmm, let's weigh this....it'll cost me $300 to NOT buy insurance, or $12,000 to buy insurance, and I can STILL buy a policy if I get sick, at community rating. Therefore, people hurting financially are going to opt for no health care and pay the penalty. But CBO can't figure into its analysis what people MIGHT do, hence the gravity of UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Posted by: boosterprez | March 3, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"I agree with Ezra. Obama would not have spoken the way he did (with great confidence and authority) unless he knew they have the votes."

Wrong. If they had the votes they'd do it NOW. They'd have already DONE it.

They HOPE they'll have the votes. And they've given themselves an indefinite timeframe ("the next few weeks") to BUY those votes.

Posted by: cpurick | March 3, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"If you throw enough pixie dust in the air everything will be okay...."

yes, you are quite right. and it is going to pay off.

right action, with hope, hard work and luck = pixie dust.

sometimes, just sometimes, those who deserve them, get their ponies after all.
in a perfect world, we would get unicorns, but this is not a perfect world, and the hard working and hard hoping realists among us are going to settle for ponies, and we will be glad to get them.
after this long oppositional struggle with those who have plotted, mocked and worked unyieldingly to ensure a failure for president obama and the american people....they will have to submit to the pixie dust and handclapping.

Posted by: jkaren | March 3, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Let's tally up the lies:

1. Obama claims to hold summit to make bill bipartisan. Even the most tragically stupid liberal knows that was a lie. The plan was always to push forward

2. The demoncrats claim ramming through the bill via reconciliation is only asking for a "simple majority". When they were in the minority Obama, Nancy Reid and the rest are on film saying using reconciliation is wrong. Were they lying then or are they lying now.

3. Bunning's actions hurt the Rs. Inside the beltway they sure did. In America the majority was cheering for him because he was absolutely right. It was the dems who passed Paygo and the $10B they wanted to spend wasn't paid for...so they lied again.

4. America will love this after it passes. Not sure if this is a lie or you liberal morons are delusional.

You will be crushed in November. Change is coming and I am looking forward to it.

Hey Ezra...getting that tingle down your leg because health care might pass?

Posted by: manbearpig4 | March 3, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Exclusive: GOP To Unleash Huge Wave Of Robocalls Warning Of Dem Plot To “Ram” Health Reform Through
National Repubicans are planning to unleash a huge wave of robocalls

The robocalls — the first paid media by the NRCC’s new “code red” program, which targets Dems on health care — comes after Obama told Congress to pass reform via reconciliation.
http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/health-care/exclusive-gop-to-unleash-huge-wave-of-robocalls-warning-of-dem-plot-to-ram-health-reform-through/

The Republican robo-calls are very misleading.

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | March 3, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Ezar: Can you please tell us what, exactly, the Democrats are bringing to a vote, how much it will cost, and where we will get the money? And can you also please explain why you think this latest iteration of Obamacare will work?

Posted by: coastofutopia | March 3, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

"They HOPE they'll have the votes. And they've given themselves an indefinite timeframe ("the next few weeks") to BUY those votes."

I see that after weeks of saying with absolute certainty that HCR is dead because there would never be majority support in the House (Stupak, Blue Dogs, John Murtha, yada yada yada), a certain commenter has shifted off of that 100% certain prediction.

Now our erstwhile Nostradamus is instead laying the foundation for a nefarious explanation of why the majority in the House WILL vote for HCR.

Always fun to watch how the storyline evolves over on the right, as though nobody can remember yesterday's story. It is a bit like the old Bolsheviks' continual revision of history to suit the current party line, only here instead of adjusting the past, our friends are adjusting the future.

And on a side note, the time frame is not all that "indefinite." Most informed observers agree that the Democratic leaders feel that it is vital to have HCR all done before the Easter recess.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 3, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Buffet is right: Gawande is an expert, and he understands what needs to be done to control costs. If you read the legislation, you'll see that it opens the door to doing what needs to be done.

Posted by: mahar1 | March 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Its great to open the door now. The answer is will anyone politician have the stomach to walk through it later on? CNN reported on the American Cancer SOciety today review of the need for PSA tests. Any politician in 5 years going to touch this landmine after the cervical cancer flak earlier this year?

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/03/prostate.screening/?hpt=T2

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 3, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Summer recess: Liberals up in arms that Baucus doesn't rubber stamp the bill out of committee. Congress members go home, host town halls, come back to Washington pressing Democrat leadership on certain points.

Christmas recess: Reid buys off Landreiu and Nelson to get 60 votes. Schedules 1:00 am votes to bypass procedural rules. Congress members go home and are ripped by constituents for their votes.

Easter recess: Obama and Congressional Democrat leadership (read: liberals) sets a deadline to bully, threaten and buy off just enough votes before they face their constituents.

November 2010: Democrats lose control of the House for obstructing the will of the people, passing terrible special interest-laden bills through and by threats of unethical means.

Posted by: cprferry | March 4, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Easter recess: Obama and Congressional Democrats (read: liberals) pass and sign HCR into law. Media takes note of landmark achievement against constant Republican obstruction. Ordinary Americans realize that insurance payment caps and exclusions for pre-existing conditions have been lifted, and that out-of-pocket costs have been capped. Millions of uninsured people priced out of the market look forward to affordable basic health care coverage for the first time. Passage of the bill becomes increasingly popular as the Democrats turn their focus to other populist issues like jobs and financial reform.

November 2010: Democrats exceed expectations as voters now see Dems as fighters on the side of the average voter against Republican fat cat big money special interests. cpurick becomes sad, but invents new storyline to explain things, possibly involving space aliens or magical water sprites.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 4, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Patrick M,

The health insurance lobbyists have given 2 to 1 to the Democrats this year with liberal names Schumer, Reid, Rangel and 13 other Democrats among the top 20 on the take.

Posted by: cprferry | March 4, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

"The health insurance lobbyists have given 2 to 1 to the Democrats this year with liberal names Schumer, Reid, Rangel and 13 other Democrats among the top 20 on the take."

Oh.

It is not immediately clear how that relates to anything.

If you are arguing for a single payer health care system, eliminating the private insurance profit-taking gate keepers altogether, and banning all corporate money in American politics so that no elected representative is "on the take," well then go for it, comrade cpurick. The folks over at Firedoglake are happy you've joined them in the cause.

Assuming that might not have been your point...

Perhaps insurance companies support Democratic politicians because they appreciate the fact that Democratic health care reform will produce millions of new paid policy holders, many of whom are low risk, in exchange for the reasonable elimination of pre-ex exclusions and lifetime payment caps. Perhaps they also understand that the very moderate Democratic bill is NOT the "government takeover" of the American private health care systems that the brain dead right wing talking points try to fool most gullible factions of the electorate into believing. Instead HCR will rescue the current private system before it spirals into collapse, in which case cost control via single payer becomes the only viable option left.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 4, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

You're assuming Erza that they'll vote sometime soon so that means they have the votes. I don't believe they have the votes and therefore won't vote any time soon.

If everyone in the House voted the same way they voted previously for the House version of Obamacare it would fail due to various former Yes votes not being in the House any more. That means Pelosi has to talk some of the 39 Democrats who voted against the House Obamcare previously to now vote for the Senate version of Obamacare. That's on top of losing the one Republican who voted in favor the last time and large number of the Democrats who supported the Stupak amendment. Which all means that Pelosi will have to talk a fairly large number of those 39 Democrats, a large number of who represent districts won by McCain in 2008, into basically voting themselves out of office. Pelosi has already said she'll willing to accept those losses for the "greater good", but I wonder how enthusiastic those 39 Democrats will be to vote themselves out of office. Pelosi doesn't have to worry about her reelection of course since she represents liberal San Francisco.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 4, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

the golden rule - the guy with the gold makes the rules - is what governs this Country - everything else and I mean everything is window dressing.

everyone - everyone agrees health care is crippling the overall economy bleeding the middle class and making business less competitive - here's a solution to HELP those of us not in politics and who could give a hoot over which side scores political points - vote your pocket books!

“Use Senate reconciliation and expand Medicare via the Senate’s buy-in provisions. The CBO has already signed off on this as a means of saving money.

More importantly, if more Americans can do a buy-in with Medicare, it creates more cost control (because there’s a genuine “public option” competitor).

It also helps to solve the problems of pre-existing conditions, because Medicare does not deny coverage on this basis.

Allowing a Medicare buy-in to Americans under 65 would give people a genuine alternative to private insurance and thereby render the pre-existing question moot.

It would also lower Medicare costs by expanding the risk pool of patients (the great bulk of medical expenses are accounted for by a small number of people, mostly the elderly, requiring very expensive treatment).

And it would substantially enhance the global competitiveness of American corporations. After all, in what other country in the world is health care a marginal cost of production for business?” - Roosevelt Institute Marshall Auerback

Posted by: JourneyHomeBurke | March 5, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

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