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.
Baucus Bullish On The Climate Bill
November 06, 2009
Strong words from Montana's Max Baucus on the prospects of climate legislation passing within a year: Baucus insisted that the bill would cross the finish line, which would require both Senate passage and a successful conference with the House. "There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation," he said. "I don’t know if it’s going to be this year. Probably next year." That's fairly newsworthy, especially since, in recent weeks, various centrist Democrats have been talking about laying the issue aside for now.
Senate Dems to Obama: Um, a Little Help Here?
October 26, 2009
After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort. The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate le
UPDATED: The Final Five
October 05, 2009
Sometime soon, maybe this week,* the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the health care reform bill it spent the last two weeks debating. Inside and outside the committee, people following this process more closely than I am say the bill is likely to pass. But it's not yet a sure thing. The committee roster is thirteen Democrats, ten Republicans. Majority vote rules. Chairman Max Baucus can afford to lose one Democrat, even if all of the committee Republicans vote against it.
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.
Today at TNR (October 1, 2009)
October 01, 2009
Earth to Obama: You Can’t Negotiate With the Planet, by Bill McKibben Benched: Why the Supreme Court Is Irrelevant, by Barry Friedman Everything You Need to Know About the Senate’s New Climate Bill, by Bradford Plumer Dionne: Why Are Democrats Being so Timid in Defending the Public Option? by E.J.
Insurance We Can Believe In
October 01, 2009
WASHINGTON--The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should actually love it. It doesn't involve a government takeover of the health care system. The idea is that only consumers who wanted to enroll in a government-run health plan would do so. Anyone who preferred private insurance could get it. The public option also uses government exactly as advocates of market economics say it should be deployed: Not as a controlling entity but as a nudge toward greater competition. Fans of the market rightly oppose monopolies.
What Rockefeller Understands
September 29, 2009
Over the last few weeks Jay Rockefeller has emerged as the Senate's most visible spokesman for a public insurance option. And, purely from a public relations standpoint, this is something of a mixed blessing. He comes from West Virginia and is pretty popular there, so that certainly helps bring non-coastal credibility to the cause. But Rockefeller speaks in a plodding, rambling style that doesn't always make for great television. He's also pretty stubborn, which makes him a loud advocate but not necessarily an effective one, at least given the way the U.S.
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.
The Newest Grubbers
September 24, 2009
WASHINGTON--If the uninsured can't count on the do-gooders to help them, where else can they turn? The question arises because certain leaders of the sector of our society devoted to civic endeavors moved this week to block a perfectly reasonable way of raising some money to extend health coverage to those who don't have it. At issue is a proposal by a number of senators, including Jay Rockefeller and John Kerry, to put a cap on tax deductions taken by the well-to-do.