8 a.m. ET: For months, Senate veterans pondering when a health-care bill would pass the chamber eyed Christmas week on their calendars -- specifically Wednesday, Dec. 23 -- as the last and thus, likeliest, day for passage in 2009.
But events of the last 24 hours have put that timeline in peril, and, as the Washington Post writes, "The next 48 hours will be critical to the fate" of the package. Realistically, a deal needs to be in hand this week for the Senate to pass a bill this year. The biggest stumbling block as of this writing is Joe Lieberman, who informed Harry Reid during a face-to-face meeting Sunday that he would not vote for the bill if it includes any semblance of a public option or a Medicare buy-in for those aged 55-64. That message reiterated what Lieberman said earlier on Face the Nation: "We got to start subtracting some controversial things. ... You got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the CLASS Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will in -- in future years put us further into deficit."
The New York Times calls Lieberman's move "a surprise setback for Democratic leaders," as "the bill’s supporters had said earlier that they thought they had secured Mr. Lieberman’s agreement to go along with a compromise they worked out to overcome an impasse within the Democratic Party." Jonathan Cohn writes, "Whether this was a surprise, or should have been, is a matter of some dispute," as Lieberman's office claims he had signaled his discomfort all along. Roll Call similarly reports that Lieberman's office "stongly disputed" the idea that he changed his tune. Ezra Klein mocks Lieberman for having "decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to ensure the facts of the policy couldn't impede his opposition to it." Both Klein and Nate Silver theorize that Lieberman's real goal may be torturing the liberals who've attacked him over the last several years.
Politico looks at Reid's complicated calculus: "If he kills a public option or the Medicare buy-in plan, he could lose the support of Sanders and several of the more liberal members of the Democratic conference. But keeping either of those plans, or one that would 'trigger' a public option if private insurers don’t hold down costs, would lose Lieberman - forcing Reid to find at least one moderate GOP senator to advance the proposal. To win ... Olympia Snowe, Reid would likely have to make modifications and slow the debate down since she’s signaled that the Senate needs to take more time to deal with the expansive issue." Then there's Ben Nelson, who also went on Face the Nation and called the Medicare buy-in "the forerunner of single-payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option." But the Wall Street Journal reports that "Nelson later softened his stance, saying in an interview that he was awaiting an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the proposal before making up his mind." And Nelson still has objections to the bill's language on federal funding for abortions, though he has suggested that a compromise might still be available on that front.
While Reid tries to salvage health care, Obama will be at the White House Monday meeting with top officials from the nation's major banks. In advance of the gathering, Obama made headlines by saying on "60 Minutes": "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street." Time says "beating on Wall Street makes political sense these days" and has one banking executive slamming the forthcoming meeting as "a p.r. stunt." (Politics and PR at the White House? Perish the thought!) Politico reports on the strategy of said fat cats: "Facing White House pressure to increase lending, bank CEOs plan to tell President Barack Obama in a meeting on Monday that they are ready to 'step up; and take additional steps to promote economic recovery," while "Obama will take a measured tone with the bankers, telling them he wants to have a candid and constructive conversation and doesn’t want to vilify anyone."
For context, the Wall Street Journal writes: "Relations between the banking industry and the White House were frosty from the start and have deteriorated in recent weeks, with large banks lobbying against portions of legislation that would toughen financial-market regulations and administration officials angered by some banks' continued payment of high bonuses and their reluctance to lend." As for the broader economy, the Washington Times notes that Christina Romer and Larry Summers gave mixed messages on the Sunday shows, with the latter saying the recession is over and the former saying it's not. Paul Krugman writes on the importance of the Senate passing a financial regulatory reform bill, criticizing conservatives' "alternative, bizarro universe" and concluding that "if politicians refuse to learn from the history of the recent financial crisis, they will condemn all of us to repeat it."
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.