House

Pharma's Win, Your Loss

Will legislation that expands health insurance coverage also bring down the cost of medical care? That question has been driving the political conversation over reform in the last few days, as much as at an time before. And I'll have more to say on it shortly.

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Anti-Statism in America

Anyone who has followed closely the debate over national health insurance has probably noticed some peculiar inconsistencies in Americans’ attitudes toward the legislation. A Pew Poll released on October 8 found “steady support” for specific elements of the health care plan, including the public alternative to private insurance, the employer mandate, and the requirement that everyone have insurance. Nonetheless, popular support for the plan itself was declining, with 34 percent “generally [in] favor” and 47 percent “generally opposed.” What accounts for this disparity?

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Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to report out climate legislation, with ten Democrats voting yes, one Democrat (Montana’s Sen. Baucus) voting no, and all of the Republicans boycotting. If you look at the vote tally (using Project Vulcan data), you find that the states of senators voting "no" emitted 29.4 tonnes of carbon per capita, and the states of "yes" voters emitted 13.3 tonnes per capita, compared with a national average of 20.9 tonnes per capita. What do you think?

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So much has been said about Max Baucus and the Finance Committee for the last few days that it's easy to forget that four other committees are supposed to have a say in the matter. In the Senate, there is the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which passed its own version of reform way back in July. HELP's bill was, admittedly, only a partial measure. Because of its limited jurisdiction, it couldn't propose changes to taxes or to Medicare and Medicaid, huge swaths of the health care enterprise.

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Charles in Charge

Tonight the GOP response to Obama’s prime-time health care speech will be delivered by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr., a little-known former heart surgeon who has been serving the state’s 7th district since 2005. Boustany is an interesting choice for the GOP considering the hype surrounding the speech and that the last rebuttal to the president came from high-profile 2012 contender Bobby Jindal. So who is he? Boustany, 53, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana to Lebanese immigrant grandparents and a Democrat father who served as Lafayette Parish coroner for 16 years.

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Mob Rule?

WASHINGTON -- Health care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change. But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion?

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Thanks to the New York Times, we now know the details of an agreement between the White House and the drug industry. And it's looking more like the sweetheart deal that cynics always said. Actually, it's thanks to Billy Tauzin--head of the drug industry lobby PhRMA--who spilled the bean during an on-the-record interview. Some quick background: Earlier in the summer, the White House made a big splash by announcing the drug industry had agreed to sign off on legislative changes that would cut its revenue stream by $80 billion.

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It's common knowledge that most farmers oppose a cap-and-trade bill—or at least it was common knowledge until last month. That's when the National Farmers Union (NFU) issued a press release that urged House members to approve Rep. Collin Peterson's controversial and farm-friendly additions to the House climate bill.

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Pimp My Rep

OMG! Have you seen Episode 7 of CNN.com’s “Freshman Year”? Unbelievable. First, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (you know, the Utah Republican living out of his office) totally slams Nancy Pelosi at his birthday party, laughing about how he shares a birthday with “all the ugly people”: the speaker, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, comedian Martin Short, and that creepy old guy who played Spock in the original “Star Trek.” Meanwhile, crunchy Colorado Dem Jared Polis gets to meet Bono (!), and they bond over how much they hate wearing ties. (Funny.

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The O-List

In the spring of 2007, long before Sarah Palin became a feminist icon, before Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers reared their unreconstructed heads, before Hillary Clinton ever questioned his readiness to be president, Barack Obama's greatest nemesis was a 29-year-old paralegal named Joe Anthony. Anthony had attracted tens of thousands of fans to a MySpace page he'd set up for Obama—a testament to the legions of new voters the candidate was inspiring. But, back in Chicago, all Anthony's site inspired was indigestion.

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