Is health care reform dead? Megan McArdle says so, offering two arguments -- one persuasive, the other not. Her unpersuasive argument is that Democrats are going to walk away from health care reform because it's unpopular: Health care's popularity drops any time Congress discusses it. With respect to Nate Silver, who argues that the bill would be popular if they ever passed it and could discuss what's in it, you cannot "prove" that voters like a bill because various bits of it poll well on their own.
Health care reform may not be finished after all. Despite the political reverberations of last week’s special election in Massachusetts, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are still discussing ways of passing a comprehensive reform bill. But it’s going to take heroic political efforts, given the number of Democrats suddenly skittish about supporting such a bill.
From chatting with people on the Hill these past few days, it's clear that there's a lot of pessimism about the Senate passing a big climate bill this year. (And if nothing passes in 2010, next year won't be any easier, given that Democrats will likely lose a bunch of seats in the midterms.) The dour predictions aren't surprising, given that even health care reform is in peril right now.
Is health care reform dead or, to quote the Princess Bride, "only mostly dead"? It depends a bit on who's talking and when, but at the moment it seems to be only mostly dead. To review, things looked grim--really, really grim--most of Wednesday. Senate Democrats seemed to be throwing up their hands: We've passed our bill, they were suggesting, and the House could take it or leave it. House Democrats responded pretty clearly: They were inclined to leave it. And the White House?
Like Chait and Cohn, I think Obama's only real option for passing health care should Coakley lose is getting the House to pass the Senate bill and massaging the differences later. Which means that knocking heads together in the House these next few weeks is going to be the most important task of Obama's presidency so far--possibly his entire presidency. On the plus side, Nancy Pelosi seems to have a reasonably good grip on her caucus.
In early December, the White House announced four finalists for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award--a competition that plumbed the depths of the federal bureaucracy for ideas on how the government could save money. One finalist proposed streamlining the way the Forest Service forwards campground fees to the government. Another suggested that the Social Security Administration allow people to book appointments online rather than only by phone.
Peter Baker's upcoming New York Times Magazine cover story (mentioned by Mike below) on Obama and terrorism has this slightly unsettling nugget: [Obama] is committed to taking aggressive actions to disrupt terrorist cells, aides said, but he also considers his speech in Cairo to the Islamic world in June central to his efforts to combat terrorism. “If you asked him what are the most important things he’s done to fight terrorism in his first year, he would put Cairo in the top three,” Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, told me. Really?
Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown is reporting that the White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Joe Lieberman. The White House is denying the report, in fairly strong terms: "The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction," spokesman Dan Pfeiffer says. "We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible." But one of TNR's Capitol Hill sources is saying the same thing that Politico's is.
One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.
Earlier today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was up at the House Financial Services Committee testifying on the administration's proposal for dealing with threats to the financial system ("Too Big To Fail," etc.). One day earlier, he and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel held a closed-door meeting with Democrats on the committee to field questions about the proposal and urge them to hang together. For Rahm, it was at least the second time this week he'd participated in an event with top Treasury officials.