If Only Rahm Had Tried Jim DeMint
February 09, 2010
I've been critical of Rahm Emanuel recently. But this line of attack seems a little unpersuasive: Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform. ... The lawmaker said Emanuel misjudged the Senate by focusing on only a few Republicans, citing Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as too narrow a pool. “In the Senate, you have to anchor in the middle and build out," said the lawmaker. “They just wanted to win," the source said of Emanuel and other White House strategists.
Obama to GOP: Fine, Let's Talk (Updated)
February 07, 2010
President Obama is making good on his pledge, first put forth in the State of the Union, to reach out to Republicans on health care reform. In a CBS News interview with Katie Couric that just aired, Obama announced that he's inviting Republican leaders to the White House this week to put their ideas on the table--and then holding a public forum to discuss them. White House officials say the forum will be February 25. The meeting will be open press, with C-Span (and, I presume, other networks) televising the whole thing.
Transparency and Sausage Making
January 12, 2010
When the Democrats announced that they would be forgoing conference committee proceedings and negotiating a final health care reform bill informally, critics pounced on President Barack Obama for violating his promise of greater transparency in government. And I, for one, had no great urge to defend him. As a presidential candidate, Obama had not merely promised to introduce more transparency to government.
Playing With House Money
January 07, 2010
If there’s one area in which the House health care reform bill is obviously superior to the Senate version, it’s coverage and affordability. There’s more financial assistance for buying insurance and much stronger protection against out-of-pocket medical costs. That means more people getting coverage and fewer people struggling with expenses. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies, both on and off Capitol Hill, have made clear this is one of their top priorities for the coming negotiations over how to merge the two pieces of legislation.
The Starter Home
December 19, 2009
At Saturday’s press conference announcing that Democrats had the sixty votes necessary to pass health reform legislation, Majority Leader Harry Reid was flanked by three of his colleagues: Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, and Tom Harkin. But Harkin was, in a sense, the odd man out. Unlike Baucus and Dodd, who managed health care legislation through their respective committees, Harkin assumed a leadership role only after taking over chairmanship of the HELP Committee in September.
Putting a Cork in It
November 23, 2009
Nate Silver makes the sharp observation that all the public hand-wringing by red state Democrats about how they won't vote for the health care reform bill in its current form may not do them much good with their voters: Take a look, for instance, at some evidence from Montana, where we have a bit of a controlled experiment. In Montana, a purplish-red state, there are two Democratic senators -- Max Baucus and Jon Tester -- each of whom have ultimately decided to support the Democrats' health care reform plans.
A (Small) Win for Wyden and Choice
November 20, 2009
Ron Wyden will have his day and, in somewhat scaled-down fashion, he'll have his way. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, and Wyden just announced that they will be amending health care legislation to include a compromise version of Wyden's free choice amendment. A press statement explains the details of the deal, which culminated weeks of hardball negotiations: Under the Senate legislation as it is currently written, Americans with employer-provided coverage, whose income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level and whose premiums are between 8 and 9.8 percent of
Would Weaker Targets Mean A Cheaper Climate Bill?
November 17, 2009
As Lisa Lerer reports in Politico today, one of the steepest hurdles looming over the Senate climate bill is the fact that there are a lot of coal-state Democrats out there who want to see major changes to the legislation before they'll vote for it. Last week, 14 senators wrote Harry Reid demanding more protections for coal-heavy utilities. And the industry wants to see the bill's near-term emission targets relaxed. Currently, the Senate cap-and-trade program aims to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
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.
Climate Bill Makes It Out Of Committee--Er, Sort Of
November 05, 2009
Well, that was anti-climactic. The Environment and Public Works Committee just voted 11-1 to approve a cap-and-trade bill and report it out to the Senate floor. Since Republicans were still boycotting the mark-up, creating a stalemate, EPW Democrats just decided to get around them by skipping the usual amendment process—instead, they'll offer their changes later, on the floor. Max Baucus was the only senator who voted "no," saying that he wants the climate bill to proceed, but thinks EPW should mark the bill up in committee.