8 a.m. ET: There are only 47 days left until Congress' August recess is scheduled to begin -- less than 30 on the legislative calendar -- and the key players in the health care debate appear to be far from consensus. President Obama, top Senators and vital interest groups continued to circle each other Monday, with few signs of progress so far to suggest a substantive agreement will be reached by Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Even as Obama got a mixed reception from the American Medical Association yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office put a $1 trillion price tag on Edward Kennedy's draft health care measure. That number, and CBO's prediction that millions of Americans would still be left uninsured, may have been enough to stop the bill in its tracks, or at least until Kennedy's HELP committee can put together a new version of the measure for a new score. The New York Times says the CBO analysis "raised the hurdles" for Kennedy's plan and "came as a surprise,"
But Ezra Klein writes, "The numbers ... are not credible representations of HELP's coming legislation," because they did not include strong employer and individual mandates that are expected to be included in the bill but were not in the draft version the committee gave to the CBO to analyze. The Wall Street Journal similarly notes "that proposal was missing key details that are likely to significantly change the final numbers."
Separately, Kent Conrad's proposal to create nonprofit health insurance cooperatives isn't drawing much support from his fellow Democrats, Politico writes. On The New Republic's health care blog this week, Jacob Hacker suggested "Conrad’s idea appears to be yet another compromised compromise that cuts the heart out the idea of public plan choice on the alter of political expediency." Instead, Hacker advocates for "a compelling vision of public plan choice" circulated by Jay Rockefeller.
The Finance Committee, meanwhile, is working on another compromise propoal that Max Baucus hopes to release by the end of this month. Time says the question of whether a public plan will be included "could potentially make or break the passage of landmark health care reform this year."
Maybe we could get some constructive ideas by consulting with experts from other countries on how they structure their health care systems, right? Wrong. Tim Noah mocks "the political establishment's hubristic refusal to consider how other countries manage health care" and jokes that it would be "unpatriotic" to try to improve America's score on various international health measures.
On the economic front, the administration will continue trickling out details of its financial regulatory overhaul, in advance of tomorrow's formal announcement. Bloomberg TV and CNBC will air interviews this afternoon with Obama on the subject, according to Playbook.
And lest you thought this story was over, David Letterman decided -- for real this time -- to apologize to Sarah Palin last night for his now-famous comment about her unspecified daughter and Alex Rodriguez. Letterman delivered a long mea culpa seemingly free of sarcasm. Paul Farhi points out that lots of comedians mocked Palin's pregnant daughter last year, with nary a peep of protest from the governor.
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