Jonathan Chait

A Clue From OMB on Health Care?

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Interesting aside from OMB Deputy Director Rob Nabors just now in a call with reporters about the spending freeze, in response to a question about the negative reaction from congressional appropriators*:

I remember the president said something to me that always stuck. When we sat down to ask if both houses [of Congress] could pass health care bills, a lot of people reacted negatively [because it had never been done before]. But the president said, don’t bet against me. And we’re confident that [those health care bills] will soon go through the conference process and be on the president’s desk. So I understand the appropriators initial reaction, but there’s a lot of time [between now and the end of the appropriations process].

So the working assumption around the White House is that the health care bills the House and Senate passed will soon be merged and signed by the president? That would be the best news health care advocates have heard in a while.

*This is from my contemporaneous notes, which aren't perfect but pretty close.

Update: An OMB official says Nabors wasn't judging the likely outcome of the health care process. Just using the passage of health care by both houses as an example of an acheivement that seemed unlikely at the outset but ended up happening nonetheless. (The point about the conference process/president's desk was intended as an allusion to what normally happens once you pass bills through both houses of Congress, not a prediction about health care.)

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