Waxman, liberals, strong arm health care through committee

Rick Moran
I don't know whether the liberals simply wore down the Blue Dogs or the prospect of not getting any health insurance reform at all terrified all the Dems on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

But it is clear that the chairman of that committee - Henry Waxman - knocked the heads of his members together long enough and strong enough so that enough of the more moderate Democratic Congressmen finally caved and agreed to an expansive public option in the final bill.

It appears to me that at bottom, the Blue Dogs just threw up their hands and passed the buck on how the massive boondoggle would be paid for, hoping that the Ways and Means Committee will come up with the $1.5 trillion needed to fund it. Otherwise, there really is no way to explain how they could oppose the bill's cost one day, and then turn around and support the provision that will cost the most the next. The liberals threatening to derail the whole process unless there was a strong public option also played  a role.

At stake: The relevancy of the Obama presidency and hence, the relevancy of their own campaigns in 2010. That may have helped tip the balance in the end also.

The particulars of the bill are familiar. What's interesting is how the Dems plan on selling this Edsel to the American people as Paul Kane and Perry Bacon of the Washington Post explain:

Sensitive to the hard-hitting advocacy campaigns already targeting some members, Democratic leaders gave lawmakers marching orders to promote the plan in their congressional districts during the recess or face the prospect of its defeat once it comes to the House floor.

"If we want the public option, we have to sell it to the American people,"  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday.

The debate is already intense in many states because of a flood of television and radio ads in recent weeks from outside groups.

Pelosi urged members to use town halls and other events to get away from the complicated debates that have resounded in Washington and to focus instead on issues more likely to resonate with voters, such as a provision in the legislation that would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

House Republican leaders say their members will host events on health care but will also discuss broader economic issues. GOP leaders believe they can defeat the Democratic health proposals by connecting them to the $787 billion stimulus, which passed earlier this year but has not reversed the nation's rising unemployment rate. Republicans plan to call in to sympathetic radio programs and blast the stimulus on Aug. 17, exactly six months after Obama signed it into law.

So the battle is joined. The Democrats will do everything in their power to hide the costs of the bill as well as downplay the provisions in the bill that would make it unsellable. In this, their allies in the press will assist them because in truth, it is much harder to prove what the practical effect of some of the provisions in the bill will have (i.e., you will end up being forced to give up the private insurance you have now and take the public option even though it is not specifically required in the bill) than simply pointing to all the "good stuff" like insurance companies being forced to accept patients with pre-existing conditions.

Can it be stopped? Polls would seem to indicate that the more the voter knows about this monstrosity of a bill, the more they oppose it. I think regardless of what the House and Senate end up doing, their versions of the bill will be so different as to make a fusion of them in conference committee very, very difficult to pass. The entire process is already on the knife's edge of failure in the senate and any watering down of the public option will doom the bill in the House. Conversely, the cost of the House bill will be too much for the senate to pass.

In the end, it may very well be the Democrats themselves who kill the bill with a little help from the GOP.






I don't know whether the liberals simply wore down the Blue Dogs or the prospect of not getting any health insurance reform at all terrified all the Dems on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

But it is clear that the chairman of that committee - Henry Waxman - knocked the heads of his members together long enough and strong enough so that enough of the more moderate Democratic Congressmen finally caved and agreed to an expansive public option in the final bill.

It appears to me that at bottom, the Blue Dogs just threw up their hands and passed the buck on how the massive boondoggle would be paid for, hoping that the Ways and Means Committee will come up with the $1.5 trillion needed to fund it. Otherwise, there really is no way to explain how they could oppose the bill's cost one day, and then turn around and support the provision that will cost the most the next. The liberals threatening to derail the whole process unless there was a strong public option also played  a role.

At stake: The relevancy of the Obama presidency and hence, the relevancy of their own campaigns in 2010. That may have helped tip the balance in the end also.

The particulars of the bill are familiar. What's interesting is how the Dems plan on selling this Edsel to the American people as Paul Kane and Perry Bacon of the Washington Post explain:

Sensitive to the hard-hitting advocacy campaigns already targeting some members, Democratic leaders gave lawmakers marching orders to promote the plan in their congressional districts during the recess or face the prospect of its defeat once it comes to the House floor.

"If we want the public option, we have to sell it to the American people,"  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday.

The debate is already intense in many states because of a flood of television and radio ads in recent weeks from outside groups.

Pelosi urged members to use town halls and other events to get away from the complicated debates that have resounded in Washington and to focus instead on issues more likely to resonate with voters, such as a provision in the legislation that would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

House Republican leaders say their members will host events on health care but will also discuss broader economic issues. GOP leaders believe they can defeat the Democratic health proposals by connecting them to the $787 billion stimulus, which passed earlier this year but has not reversed the nation's rising unemployment rate. Republicans plan to call in to sympathetic radio programs and blast the stimulus on Aug. 17, exactly six months after Obama signed it into law.

So the battle is joined. The Democrats will do everything in their power to hide the costs of the bill as well as downplay the provisions in the bill that would make it unsellable. In this, their allies in the press will assist them because in truth, it is much harder to prove what the practical effect of some of the provisions in the bill will have (i.e., you will end up being forced to give up the private insurance you have now and take the public option even though it is not specifically required in the bill) than simply pointing to all the "good stuff" like insurance companies being forced to accept patients with pre-existing conditions.

Can it be stopped? Polls would seem to indicate that the more the voter knows about this monstrosity of a bill, the more they oppose it. I think regardless of what the House and Senate end up doing, their versions of the bill will be so different as to make a fusion of them in conference committee very, very difficult to pass. The entire process is already on the knife's edge of failure in the senate and any watering down of the public option will doom the bill in the House. Conversely, the cost of the House bill will be too much for the senate to pass.

In the end, it may very well be the Democrats themselves who kill the bill with a little help from the GOP.