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White House focuses on history-making aspect of health care

1. The White House trotted out one of its most disciplined messengers -- senior adviser David Axelrod -- to make the case on the Sunday chat shows for the historic nature of President Obama's accomplishment on health care. Axelrod described the moment as a "historical crossroads" in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", adding: "Seven presidents have tried to pass comprehensive health insurance reform, seven presidents have failed. We've been talking about it for 100 years. We're on the doorstep of getting it done, and it'll be a great victory for the American people." On "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", Axelrod used the same language to defend against the assertion that fight for the bill was far more difficult than the administration initially expected. Ditto Axelrod on CNN's "State of the Union." The appeal to history is an attempt to reinforce one of the fundamental pillars of Barack Obama's image: that he can break through old divisions and get government working again for the American people. There are, of course, two major caveats here. First, the bill passed the House with a single Republican vote -- Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao -- and looks likely to win approval in the Senate without a single GOP vote. Second, Axelrod's supposition is heavily dependent on the bill making positive change in the way health care is delivered in the country. If the American people believe the bill was the wrong thing, the history Obama will be making is of the far more ignominious type.

2. Make sure to look out for the Fix's winners and losers from the health care debate in this space shortly. (You can still offer your own take on who won and who lost in the battle over health care too.) But, here's a taste: WINNERS: 1) Harry Reid: By hook and by crook, he got 58 Democrats and two independents behind the bill. 2) Barack Obama: The bill may not be everything the president wanted and the process of getting legislation passed was VERY messy but the fact remains that Obama got a health care bill when his predecessors had failed to do so. 3) John McCain: After months of listlessness in the Senate, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee emerged as a leading voice of the opposition to the bill. LOSERS: 1) Joe Lieberman: The Connecticut Independent's move to kill the public option was widely derided as a flip flop. It's only impact may well be to further inflame the liberal left against him. 2) Liberals: The Senate bill steadily stripped away provisions near and dear to the left while the White House cut deals with moderates. Stay tuned to this space later this morning for the Fix's full list of winners and losers.

3. The deal Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) cut for the Cornhusker State didn't satisfy Gov. Dave Heineman (R-Neb.) who quickly distanced himself from it. "Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal," said Heineman. "Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with Senator Nelson's compromise." Heineman, sounding very much like a candidate, added that the "responsibility for this special deal lies solely on the shoulders of Senator Ben Nelson." Nelson isn't up for re-election until 2012 halfway through Heineman's second full term in office -- assuming he wins (and he is heavily favored to do so) next fall. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will go hard after Heineman in advance of Nelson's run for reelection and, if he runs, the GOP governor will be an even-money bet (at worst) against the Democratic incumbent. Heineman's strong attacks on Nelson despite the plaudits the senator won from strategists of both parties for his actions on health care suggest the Republican has an eye on a 2012 race.

4. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) doesn't often offer his thoughts on his former vice presidential running mate -- former Alaska governor Sarah Palin -- so when he does it's worth paying attention. Asked on "Fox News Sunday" about Palin's blacked-out "McCain" visor, the Arizona Senator asserted that his family and the Palins have a "wonderful relationship," adding: "She is going to be a force in the Republican party for a long time and the hysterical attacks on her from the left continue to validate that." The truth is that McCain and Palin aren't close -- although they are not at daggers-drawn in the way that the former governor is with some of the presidential campaign staff. If Palin runs in 2012, however, it could put McCain in a somewhat awkward position as each represents a very different thread of Republicanism. Add to that fact that two of McCain's personal friends -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and South Dakota Sen. John Thune -- could well be in the race and the Arizona senator may be headed for a tough decision come endorsement time.

5. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) is doing absolutely nothing to indicate he will run for higher office in 2010, according to a piece in Sunday's New York Daily News. The story quotes Guy Molinari, the father of former Rep. Susan Molinari and a major player in New York Republican politics, saying bluntly that there is "no evidence" that Giuliani will run for anything next November. The Giuliani inner circle has indicated that a run for Senate is a possibility -- albeit a long shot -- while a run for governor is out. (Giuliani believes state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will, eventually, be the Democratic nominee and that winning such a race would be extremely difficult.) While the Senate may be an easier target -- appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is not well known statewide -- there's a very simple reason why Giuliani won't run for that seat either. To do so would require him to run a $20 million plus campaign in 2010 and, if he won, to turn around and do it all again in 2012 in order to win a full six-year term in his own right. While Gillibrand, at 43, is on the early end of her political career and can fathom that sort of four year financial and political commitment, Giuliani, at 65, is on the other side of his political life and such a campaigning marathon can't appeal to him.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 21, 2009; 5:23 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Everybody - everybody - is telling the democrats that their health care plan is going to create a FINANCIAL DISASTER.

They have convinced themselves they are right - and all they do is talk to themselves.

How much money is this going to cost before they realize?


Posted by: 37thand0street | December 21, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This is the problem - very clearly - the country and the federal government should be concentrating on the economy and jobs - and what are we doing?

Nothing but health care. Month after month. It is sad.

The ENTIRE AGENDA OF THE COUNTRY is on a quest to stroke Obama's ego at the expense of all else. That is what this history-stuff is all about - EGO nothing else.

It doesn't matter how much it costs, or if there are other things more important.

If that isn't incompetence, I don't know what is.


Posted by: 37thand0street | December 21, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

McCain a winner here?

That daffy "earmarks" guy yammering for months about that god damned bridge?

The guy who wanted to cut Medicare to the bone in his failed campaign and now screams that the HC bill will cut Medicare?

This guy is about as relevant as an old newspaper rotting in a ditch.

A new insult to the intelligence from Republican Resurgence.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 21, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, sorry for the delay, work is work,

My concern is that all rate increases attributable to what Mark refers to as underlying or structural issues will be attacked as have resulted from this effort- by the same people who prevented real reform with cost control measures from being part of the effort.

At the very least this wholly Democratic effort (which as you say, isn't going to come on line for a long time) will be attacked for not preventing any of the increases we will see that are already in the pipeline.

The Democrats need to prepare for this, "Look, they are giving free health care to the poor and my bill went up!" coming from the wingers as the next elections approach. This may become one cost of over-selling by Axelrod et al what has been accomplished here. The Democrats need to stay on the attack to hold the initiative.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 21, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

@Mark - Since 60 is the new 50, I'd be very surprised to see this repealed. Republicans aren't going to hold 60 seats in the Senate any time soon and if they do, they'll have problems with their moderates (down to a pair of New Englanders at the moment).

As for Washington, white is the new black.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 21, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Jacked and his Right Wing Fairy Tales always make me smile (11:01). Tell us the one about Nancy Pelosi and how she's going to lose her seat in Novemeber.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 21, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The first half of Meet The State Run Media - Rodaxel spins that everyone wants and loves “healthcare reform”. The second half - discussion of polls that show Not everyone wants and loves the same. I think Rodaxel is not a lover of the truth.

Posted by: leapin | December 21, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

(to fix mysteriously vanishing prepositions in 11:07 a.m. scrivener post; second graph should read:)

"What if feigning capitulation in response to the extortionate demands of Senators Lieberman and Nelson is a calculated chess move to advance the bill..."

We do, indeed, live in "interesting times." RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 21, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ask yourself where would we be in the 1st yr of a McCain-Palin administration. No progress on health care, an economic meltdown, bomb bomb Iran, another Scalia on the Supreme Court and an AWOL, Rogue or just plain quitting VP.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 21, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The Obama WH's health care bill is historic alright. His government takeover and nationalizing private companies is nothing more than European--like Socialism and Communism, straight out of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" book, on how to take over our government, and turn it into a workers paradise, a la the former USSR's. Hugo Chavez is doing the same in Venezuela.
Somehow--surprise, surprise--it's escaped the Obama worshippers here that if this government takeover of our health care system goes down, it'll probably drive all private companies out of business, or out of the country. There is no private health care company in America that can compete with the government that has unlimited funds, has no bottom line, can make laws benefiting themselves, can hire hundreds of thousand of pencil--pushers, relatives, retired or kicked-out ex-policians, and big campaign contributers to do do--nothing jobs. What has also escaped these anti--America, anti--freedom, and anti--US Constitution liberal aholes here, is the fact that the Democrap Socialists in congress rammed this bill through congress, and down the American peoples throat, even though 60% to 70% of all the American people in every poll taken are against it. Every Senators and House of Representative members primary job is to REPRESENT the people in his/her district or state, and to do and vote their will, and not rule them. If the people in their district or state are against something by 60% to 70%, it's supposed to be their duty and job to vote accordingly. By them not voting according to their constituants wishes, they have set themselves up as the Rulers and Masters of the people, rather than what our Constitution says that they should be, the servants of the people.
Welcome to Socialism and Communism folks, it's what you voted for, and are now getting.

Posted by: armpeg | December 21, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse


The progressives and liberals are angry and disillusioned now... but patience is required of the resolute warrior.

What if feigning capitulation in response to the extortionate demands Senators Lieberman and Nelson is calculated chess move to advance the bill...

...setting up the opportunity to champion the HOUSE bill in reconciliation -- requiring only 51 votes to secure final passage?

What better way to reinvigorate disillusioned liberals and progressives and to show Republicans what "majority rule" -- and political savvy -- is all about?


Health Care Reform a Cruel Joke to Unconstitutionally "Targeted" and Electromagnetically Tortured Americans...


See article, comments, "Obama Wrong; U.S. DOES Torture -- Its Own Citizens" at:

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 21, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Hitler "focused" on the history-making aspect of the Enabling Law too. Gotta go, Live Fix is on : )

Posted by: JakeD | December 21, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that some of us didn't vote for McCain last time around because picking Gov. Palin was simply too little too late. Now, if she runs in 2012, I would vote for her.

Posted by: JakeD | December 21, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

McCain-Feingold was a "bipartisan" enfringement on 1st Amendment political speech. It would be better if he simply retired and let a REAL conservative take his place.

Posted by: JakeD | December 21, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of natural constituencies, does McCain have one? He's getting challenged from the right in a primary, while getting excoriated for being too moderate. But he's not actually doing anything moderate or bipartisan. I'll have to remember to ask my father in law what he's hearing in AZ. It seems to me like McCain's best prospect is that people are in the habit of voting for him.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Since the day of President Obama's inauguration, the Republican Party made a cold political calculation that if they could block every initiative brought forth by the Democrats, they could label Obama a failed president and the Democratic Party incapable of governing.

This policy of pure, unadulterated obstructionism would, they felt, lead them out of the wilderness and back to power.

It is the same playbook they employed at the beginning of the Clinton Presidency (remember his first budget? It passed without a single Republican vote, and Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky lost her seat because she was the tie-breaking vote in the was also the legislation that led to eight years of prosperity and budget surpluses.)

The actions of the Republican Party are beyond shameless. They care not a whit for the actual needs of the American people and will do anything and everything in their power to create the illusion of a failed presidency.

Fortunately, time is on Obama's side. The economy will be picking up quite nicely by November, and will be solid and strong by 2012.

And the Republicans will be the minority party in Congress well into the Twenties.

Posted by: Bondosan | December 21, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

shrink2 writes
"Now Democrats will own every new rate increase and there will be many. Ok, maybe the people who got health care coverage who did not have it before will get out and vote Democratic. But will they outnumber the voters paying more than ever for health care?"

I don't know that those rate increases will happen in time to influence the 2012 election. Typically employer-based health insurance is tied to calendar years, so for most people, there will only be two rate increases between now & the 2012 elections. Given that 1/3 are covered by Medicare, 1/3 by employers & only the last 1/3 is paying their own way - many of whom will benefit from subsidies - is there a natural constituency for people who will directly see cost increases & not be benefitting from subsidies?

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 21, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree that McCain is a loser. Hopefully, the Republicans learned the lessons on running moderates. As for the White House focusing on how great this is, of course they are doing that. The rest of us at least acknowledge the huge financial risk and what that could mean in 2010-2012:

Posted by: JakeD | December 21, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't a leader usually move towards something? McCain isn't leading anything, the GOP isn't leading anything: they have had no ideas for our country during these crisis years of their own manufacture.

McCain isn't even *rallying* his party-- he stuck his head out of his trench and gave an interview. McCain's party has been ignoring him since the election.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 21, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Chris, the notion that John McCain comes out a winner in all of this seems pretty lame to me. He lost. He was on the losing side. He lost his campaign for the Presidency and, his fierce opposition to this bill coupled with his pathetic needle threading on Sarah Palin marks him as a phony who only uses the appellation "maverick" when it suits his electoral ambitions.

Indeed, if McCain were truly a maverick, he would have worked with Obama to get this bill passed without all of this acrimony. As it turns out, he comes off just as much the hypocrite as Joe Lieberman. They seem to be birds of a feather--both imagining themselves to be independent mavericks willing to buck their own party when in reality they are the crass politicians they always pretend to villify.

Posted by: jaxas | December 21, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Well here we go. The two parties have tied themselves to different destinies on this one. There will be no back tracking, incremental or otherwise.

Now, more then ever, this is all about adding jobs. As I mentioned yesterday,
as an optimist, I am guessing we will add jobs and the Republicans will have no masks to wear in 2010. By 2012, they will be more irrelevant than ever, just a dwindling number of angry people who bet against the hopes and abilities of their own country and lost.

On the other hand, Republicans can win a crucial strategic victory if have correctly surmised America can not afford its health care system writ large. Cynical sure, but possibly a stroke of political genius.

Before, the relentless increases in the cost of peoples' insurance premiums was not a partisan issue. People blamed the industry, or perhaps all of politic, but not one political party.

Now Democrats will own every new rate increase and there will be many. Ok, maybe the people who got health care coverage who did not have it before will get out and vote Democratic. But will they outnumber the voters paying more than ever for health care?

Bottom line, if we can afford this, Republicans are done, if we can't, the Democrats could lose the White House in 2012 and that would be quite an accomplishment.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 21, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

One loser in the health care as far as I am conceerned is the State of Illinois.

Senators Durbin and Burris failed to obtain any help for Illinois in regards to Medicaid mandates.

Illinois is facing a bleak budget crisis and the new mandates will just make it worse.

All we can look forward too is increased taxes in Illinois.

Posted by: mwhoke | December 21, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Despite fumbling the expectations game, this is still a major victory for the president. He promised a health care bill and he delivered. That's an aspect that cannot be understated.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | December 21, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I had speculated that if UHC passed on a party line vote it would be subject to repeal whenever the Rs hold the Congress and the Presidency again, and subject to funding retrenchment when the Rs again control Congress. As I plow through this version, I see that it seems designed to have enough of an effect to become entrenched. If what I extrapolate is correct, this will make repeal very unlikely, and funding retrenchment unpopular. Will the newly insured want to give up their insurance? Will the persons with preexisting conditions want to lose their coverage? Will the public want to permit the carriers to increase their profits from the restricted levels? No. What will more likely happen, as medical costs continue to rise faster than inflation, is a public demand to look at underlying health care costs, which are not affected by this bill.

The Rs could take advantage of this down the road to push clinic care and medmal reform, for examples, but I think repeal and retrenchment will be off the table, even if the original bill was passed on a party line.

BTW, the insurance industry itself is likely to push clinic care - if by owning clinics it can profit through the back door. Think "HMO". We will not get the full benefits of clinic care in THAT way.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 21, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Rudy and the missus are only interested in raising money for themselves, a cause he has been committed to for the last 8 years. Like Thompson, you get used to that easy big money from speaking or lobbying and suddenly the glory of public service doesn't look like much.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 21, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

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