8 a.m. ET: House and Senate Democrats are, for the moment, moving in different directions on their respective health-care reform bills. But they do agree on one point -- President Obama isn't doing enough to help them.
In the Senate, Harry Reid is expected to ask CBO for a cost estimate of his compromise bill Monday. "Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an 'opt-out' version of the public option," Jonathan Cohn writes. "But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear 'signal' of support for their effort." The White House has so far sounded more amenable to Olympia Snowe's "trigger" idea than the plan Reid is pushing, and Huffington Post reported Saturday that Obama is "actively discouraging" the opt-out provision in favor of a trigger. And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee already has an ad up in Maine urging Obama not to give in to Snowe's demands. (Dan Pfeiffer posted a statement Sunday night dismissing the "rumor ... that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option. Those rumors are absolutely false.")
In the House, Roll Call writes that House Democrats are "frustrated" that the White House seemed to leak its preference last week for a trigger, sapping momentum from Nancy Pelosi's push for a stronger bill. The paper adds that Pelosi "had hoped to 'freeze the design' of the package last week, but moderate pushback to her preferred approach to the public plan ... forced another delay." A good chunk of moderate lawmakers oppose a public plan with reimbursement rates tied to Medicare, but dozens of liberals say they will vote against a measure with negotiated rates. The Hill reports that rural and urban House Democrats squabbled last week over the details of a deal on reimbursement rates. Though the details are uncertain, House leaders hope to have a vote on their package by Friday, Nov. 6 (which more likely means early the morning of Nov. 7.) The chamber is scheduled to have a one-week recess immediately after that, and leaders always like to use the lure of an impending break to speed action.
The Washington Post examines the individual coverage mandate, reporting that the White House is studying "the lesson of behavioral economics, a school of thought that holds that people do not necessarily make decisions out of well-reasoned self-interest." That mandate could provide a windfall for insurance companies, and the Los Angeles Times looks at how the industry "is on the verge of seeing a plan enacted that largely protects its financial interests" despite insurers' loud complaints about aspects of reform. The Associated Press writes that the House and Senate bills will likely not include mandates for employers to offer insurance. Paul Krugman jumps ahead to wonder, "how well will health reform work after it passes?" Using the example of Massachusetts as a guide, Krugman concludes: "This thing is going to work."
The White House's battle with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over health care, energy and other issues got another round of attention over the weekend, after Bruce Josten went on "Fox News Sunday" and blamed the administration for sparking the feud. Politico has Tom Donohue, the Chamber's president, saying that the White House's attacks on the group have failed. The Los Angeles Times notes that the administration "has gone out of its way to cultivate another corporate group, the Business Roundtable, which is much smaller than the chamber but represents chief executives of many of the nation's largest corporations."
In Iraq, a pair of suicide bombings on Sunday helped refocus attention on the perilous security situation in a country that of late had been receiving far less U.S. focus than Afghanistan. The New York Times calls them "the deadliest coordinated attack in Iraq since the summer of 2007" and "the continuation of a focused attempt by insurgents to strike at the government’s most critical functions." The Wall Street Journal reports: "While violence has decreased significantly since the height of sectarian warfare in 2006 and 2007, a series of high-profile attacks this year has rattled Iraqi and American officials as they gauge how quickly to draw down U.S. forces."
In Afghanistan, 14 Americans have died Monday in a pair of helicopter crashes. The Washington Post writes that the Pentagon "oversaw a secret war game this month to evaluate the two primary military options that have been put forward" for the country, an increase of 44,000 troops, or a smaller one of 10,000-15,000 troops. The exercise's conclusions have not been made public. Though a presidential runoff election is now expected, Time wonders whether Afghans will turn out in large enough numbers to bestow legitimacy on the contest given the security climate.
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