Will the Border Bill Stifle More than Illegal Crossings?
August 31, 2010
So what was in that border security bill President Obama signed into law as Congress headed out for its August recess? Simply, it’s beefed up enforcement: more border patrol agents, more high-tech surveillance equipment, and better communications equipment for the U.S.-Mexico border to help stop illegal immigrants, drugs, and weapons from coming into the United States. Republicans have been pushing for more enforcement, especially as reaction to Arizona’s new immigration law has made it clear that the American public thinks that the federal government is falling down on the job.
No Hire Power
February 24, 2010
The latest unemployment statistics show a much worse story than had been previously accepted. The Obama administration is now projecting that the unemployment rate will average 10 percent this year, 9 percent in 2011, and more than 8 percent in 2012. It is not projected to get back to a more normal rate until 2016. The severity of the problem would easily justify another stimulus package as large or larger than the one passed last year. Instead, it looks like we are going to get a $15 billion jobs package based on a proposal from Senators Charles Schumer and Orrin Hatch.
How Many Lives Does the Public Option Have?
February 18, 2010
I'm a longtime, enthusiastic fan of the public option. And I am really nervous about its latest rise from the grave. As you may recall, the public option died in December, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped it from his reform bill in order to secure the final votes necessary for a filibuster-proof, 60-member majority.
After the Vote
December 21, 2009
Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo has some good scene reporting from the vote early Monday morning: Vicki Kennedy, widow of Ted, embracing members after the vote; Charles Schumer joking that Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon, was heading off for a stiff drink. He's also got some hints about what's coming next: Sens.
Should We Laugh? Cry? Both?
November 22, 2009
The ritual is becoming familiar. Health care reform passes a major political hurdle. And progressives don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Last time, the occasion was a vote in the House of Representatives. Health care reform passed by the slimmest of margins, but not before conservative Democrats had extracted a major concession on abortion rights. This time, it was a vote in the Senate--not on whether to pass a bill, but whether to begin debating one.
Spend and Deliver
October 17, 2009
Congress has been formally debating health care reform for almost nine months. And the country, as a whole, has been debating it for years. But now that the last congressional committee with jurisdiction has approved legislation, lawmakers are confronting the essential conundrum that's bedeviled this issue all along: Their desire to expand health insurance coverage exceeds their willingness to pay for it. As deliberations move to the House and Senate floors, then on to conference-committee negotiations, something has to give.
Consumer Protection, Except for the Protecting Consumers Part
October 06, 2009
Democrat Charles Schumer has been a vocal advocate for the public insurance option and, more generally, among his party’s most effective public spokesmen on health care. Republican Olympia Snowe, despite considerable pressure from GOP leadership, has worked diligently to find a compromise both she and her Democratic counterparts can support in good faith.
Can States Do the Public Option?
October 01, 2009
The latest wrinkle in the public option debate (via Politico initially) is a proposal that comes from Senator Tom Carper, the Delaware Democrat that sits on the Finance committee. According to the proposal's latest draft, which Carper's staff is circulating but--I'm told--Carper himself is not really hawking yet, the idea is to let states set up their own alternative coverage options. Those options include starting a non-profit co-operative, opening up the benefits plan for state employees, or, yes, starting a real public plan. There's no trigger, at least in the document I've seen.
Sad, if Predictable: Finance Rejects Public Option
September 29, 2009
Two public insurance options put up for a vote. Two public insurance options voted down by the Finance Committee. The count was fifteen to eight against the first amendment, which came from Jay Rockefeller and would have allowed the public plan to set its payment rates based on Medicare. The vote was a bit closer on the second amendment.
Wishful Thinking From Schumer?
September 10, 2009
Now that Obama’s Big Speech is over, the focus of the health care debate has moved swiftly back to the Senate Finance Committee, as it prepares to release its own bill next week. At a press conference on Capitol Hill today, the Senate Democratic leadership stood before a bold blue sign with their newly minted slogan: “The Season for Action Is Now.” It's a variation on a line from Obama’s speech, “Now is the season for action.” The question now is where that action should take place--and what kind of action should be.