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Nancy Pelosi's health-care strategy

Hours before she was to host President Obama's State of the Union address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out a road map for winning final approval of comprehensive health-care reform. Her message: "We need to get this done. Process, I don't care about. But we need to get this done, one way or another."

Retired Justice O'Connor
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Pelosi has said she would let Reid comment on whether her proposal of a reconciliation package is feasible. (Reuters/Jim Young)
Music to my ears.

Pelosi's path is for the House and Senate to use the "budget reconciliation" process -- she rebranded it as "Constitutional majority rule," and noted that Republicans used it liberally when they controlled Congress -- to modify what House Democrats consider deal-breaking provisions of the health-care bill already passed by the Senate.

These include some alteration to the health insurance exchanges that the Senate bill creates, as a way of replacing the House-preferred public option; modification of the subsidies that are supposed to make health insurance affordable for all; and the excision of the Senate-passed excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans, which is bitterly opposed by organized labor.

To hear Pelosi tell it, the health plan tax is also bitterly opposed by House Democrats. "Our members still don't like the excise tax," she said. "They don't like half of it. They don't like any of it."

Once both chambers approve a reconciliation package, she said, the House would then be able to pass the Senate bill. The process would avoid forcing the Senate to start over -- this time, without a filibuster-proof majority -- but it would require 51 senators to agree to amend the portions of the bill that the House finds unacceptable. Pelosi said she would let Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid comment on whether this is feasible.

One reason the public has become so wary of comprehensive health-care reform, Pelosi said, is that Democrats were trying to explain the legislation's benefits while the legislation was still largely unwritten. "When you have a bill, you can sell a bill," she said. "You can bake the pie or you can sell the pie, but it's hard to do both at the same time."

She proposed two mantras for Democrats running in November: that the Bush administration really did leave a horrible mess -- "We are sweeping up behind a great big elephant," is how she put it -- and that Obama's priorities of health care, education and energy are fundamentally about creating jobs. "The whole agenda was always about jobs," she said.

Republicans have had the easier communications task, she said: "To be negative is easy. I know that. That's how we won the House." Still, she admitted that Democrats have to do a better job of getting their message across.

"You may think you're communicating," she said. "But if your wife doesn't think you are, you aren't."

By Eugene Robinson  | January 27, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Robinson  | Tags:  Eugene Robinson  
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Comments

Nancy Pelosi wants to stiil pushfor healthcare???? Well I guess because in her accepance speech she had said (We will no longer push mountains of debt onto future generations) Why would I think any different. She lies and swears to it. She just wants to keep breaking the bank. It's almost like she is printing the money herself.She does not care one iotta how much of my grandkids kids kids money she spends.

Posted by: annieandpauldonovan | January 27, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I hope they can pass a bill. When you have worked all your life and still are, and have health insurance but also serious, and now, "pre-existing conditions" it's like looking over the edge of a precipice every day and wondering if/when you and life as you know will topple over the edge.

And I deeply resent the fact that my taxes are helping to subsidize health care benefits for congressional members who have dragged their feet on health care reform. If you're not going to fix this problem you should not be taking the money of the under-insured, uninsured, or sick and potentially uninsurable population.
It's unconscionable.

Posted by: martymar123 | January 27, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his comrades are bent on forcing us to swallow the Obamacare scam.

Emulating his comrades Hugo Chavez and the rest of the Marxist thugs who are destroying Latin America, Obama is using "help-the-poor" scams like Obamacare and cap and trade to enslave people.

Obama created a "crisis," just like Hugo Chavez and the rest of the Marxist thugs in Latin America created "crises" to justify taking over and enslaving people.

Obama and his comrades worked hard on "reducing the credibility of the health insurance industry and focusing on the failure of private health insurance.” They later BRIBED insurance companies at our expense, but the demonizing and vilifying of the insurance industry was obvious. They took advantage of the fact that many of us have issues with insurance companies to manipulate us into supporting their scam.

We may have issues with insurance companies, but they are certainly NOT our main problem. Our main problem is Obama and his comrades, bent of forcing us to swallow a Marxist scam that would destroy our health care, our economy, our freedoms and our country.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | January 27, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anyone understand that reconciliation can only be used for spending increases, spending cuts, tax increases, or tax cuts? Anything proposed provision that falls outside of those tax and spending/budget issues, would (or at least should) be ruled out of order by the Senate parliamentarian. That means no abortion language to satisfy Stupak and his group; no changes to the Senate bill's provisions on state health insurance exchanges; and no tinkering with the underwriting regulations that the Senate bill imposes on insurers. Any such provision can only make it into the bill if the Senate parliamentarian is overruled by -- wait for it -- 60 votes. Back to square one.

Moreover, under reconciliation, Senators may propose unlimited amendments to the bill, which will make for some interesting political theater, as the GOP puts the Dems on the spot with wedge amendments designed to separate the Dems from popular opinion.

The purported strategy of the House passing the Senate Bill and then cramming a "fix" through reconciliation is essentially a strategy for Democratic political seppuku. If their damn bill wasn't such a disaster for the country as a whole, and for me (my high-deductible low premium Blue Cross plan would essentially be declared illegal, and my premiums would go to about 4 times their current level. FOUR TIMES), I would almost want the Dems to employ this strategy, to assure a GOP takeover in the Congress.

Posted by: davidcherr | January 28, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Constitutional majority rule???? Ummm, excuse me Ms Pelosi, Wench of the House, that is EXACTLY what the Constitution PREVENTS YOU FROM DOING!!!! This is a Representative Republic, a Constitutional Republic, NOT a Democracy - Democracy (especially in such a vast country like the USA) really translates to tyranny-of-the-majority. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once said: "Remember, democracy never lasts long; it soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself."

By Nancy Pelosi's logic (and by logic, I mean her drugged-out pharmaceutically-induced haze) that means that when Conservatives win a simple majority, they can do ANYTHING THEY WANT??? Including Unconstitutional things??? So I guess by the Wench of the House's logic, that means that all Republicans have to do is get a simple majority to agree on waterboarding the previous members of Congress!!! I mean, that's not in the Constitution, but neither is healthcare... in FACT, healthcare is something that is PREVENTED from federal intervention in the Constitution!

...man, I would LOVE to treat these elderly botox-addicted freaks like the traitors and treasonous people that they are...

Posted by: joe-loro | January 28, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad that Pelosi wasn't aborted.
Maybe she'll have a paralyzing stroke. Die,Pelosi, die!

Posted by: Jeffersoda | January 28, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

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