It’s been almost a hundred years since progressives began the campaign to make health care a right. And never before has the campaign come this far. Five congressional committees have now had their say about health care reform. And, as of Tuesday afternoon, all five have said “aye.” At this point, passage and enactment of health care reform seems not just likely but very likely.
Well, that’s the way I read the headline in The Washington Post. “Russia Dismisses Iran Sanctions” was how it was actually written, followed by “Russian Foreign Minister: Threats of Iran Sanctions Won’t Work.” The dispatch is from Mary Beth Sheridan, a savvy reporter to whom I’m becoming attached. There are slight differences between the Post piece and the report in the Times, “Russia Resists U.S. Position on Sanctions for Iran,” by Mark Landler and Clifford J. Levy. Then there was “US, Russia: Iran No sanctions yet” in The Jerusalem Post.
And there it is: Fourteeen votes for the Baucus bill, nine against. Maine Republican Olympia Snowe joined the entire Democratic delegation, including Blanche Lincoln, Jay Rockfeller, and Ron Wyden, the Democrats most likely to defect. Just a few weeks ago, the survival of health care reform seemed seriously in doubt. Town halls were turning into riots, Betsy McCaughey was running amok, and President Obama's popularity ratings were sinking. Putting together fifty, let alone sixty, votes for health reform seemed like an awfully tall order. It's still not a done deal.
As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on the Baucus bill, the influence of Karen Ignagni hangs over the proceedings. As the president of America Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)--the health insurance lobby--she is a central player in the health care debate. Ignagni has stood behind a new AHIP study which argues against the bill currently under discussion.
That seems to be the takeaway from her interview this morning with NBC's Ann Curry, which contained this back and forth, as transcribed by the WaPo's Garance Franke-Ruta (under the hed Hillary Clinton Bids Presidential Hopes Adieu): "Will you ever run for president again? Yes or no," Curry asked. "No," replied Clinton. "No?" Curry followed up. "No. No," Clinton emphasized. "I mean, this is a great job. It is a 24/7 job. And I'm looking forward to retirement at some point." Seems fairly Sherman-esque. Then again, there's that "I mean," which suggests a certain hesitation on Clinton's part.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) has released a public letter concerning HR3200, the main House health reform bill. Many people have framed health reform as a civil rights concern. More than one-fifth of African-Americans, and more than one-third of Hispanic Americans, are uninsured. Race/ethnic disparities in access to high-quality medical care are profound. Disparities in health status and lifespan are even larger, and must be counted among the most serious structural inequalities in American society.
It is a sign of our weird political moment that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama will probably hurt him among some of his fellow citizens. His opponents are describing the award as premature. The deeper problem is that the Nobel will underscore the extent to which Obama is a cosmopolitan figure, much loved in European capitals because he is the change they have been looking for. Most Americans will probably be happy to have a leader who wins acclaim around the globe.
President Obama designated George Mitchell his special envoy to the Jews and the Arabs because he had experience with them. Of course, Mitchell's familiarity with the Middle East was the familiarity of utter failure. No matter. Obama couldn't have sent George Tenet again ... or, God forbid, Anthony Zinni.
Over the weekend, America's Health Insurance Plans circulated a study it commissioned from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In a memo to AHIP members, reproduced here, president Karen Ignani explained its significance: The report makes clear that several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause health care costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system.
I’m grateful to Michael Cohen for challenging my views on General McChrystal, because it invites me--indeed, compels me--to say more about how I reached my conclusion. (Click here to find out why Joe Biden flipped on Afghanistan.) Let’s begin with some propositions about which I suspect there’s little disagreement: Entering or expanding a war is the gravest decision a political community can make. Lives, scarce resources, and honor are at stake, and the consequences of mistaken judgments are both large and lasting.