One of the most revealing moments in Saturday's debate over health care reform was when Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York took the floor. Weiner is a rising star in the Democratic Party, having quickly established himself as an unusually engaging speaker. But, in this case, it was Weiner's effective use of a prop that stood apart. The prop was the handbook for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, or FEHBP--which is, very roughly speaking, a model for how a reformed health care system might work.


Saturday's debate on the House floor was at various turns entertaining, depressing, amusing, and even enraging. But, strictly speaking, it was not particularly dramatic. Yes, the final vote was close. A bill needs 218 votes to pass. This one got 220, including one not entirely expected Republican. And at least according to one Capitol Hill source, the leadership didn't have a bunch of extra votes in its pocket.


Prediction: If health care reform comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, it will pass. OK, that’s not much of a prediction. Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t actually bring a bill to the floor unless she has the votes. And as of late Friday afternoon, she didn’t. On Capitol Hill, staff began talking about the possibility of a postponement until Sunday, or even early next week. The sticking points are the ones you’ve read about elsewhere: abortion and immigration.



Speaker Nancy Pelosi relays word from the Congressional Budget Office: The legislation’s coverage cost will be $894 billion over 10 years, fully paid for. ... The legislation cuts the deficit by about $30 billion in the first ten-years (2010 – 2019).  CBO has indicated that in the period of 2016-2019, savings and revenues will grow significantly faster than coverage costs. Translation: This bill is fiscally responsible. And, unlike the House's previous effort, it doesn't simply push the deficits into the future.

Thursday was as crazy a day as I've seen in Washington. The flurry of legislative activity over the public insurance option--and the flurry of media coverage it generated--made it difficult to keep up and, at times, to separate truth from rumor or hyperbole. But over the course of the day, one thing became increasingly clear. At least for the moment, the debate isn't over whether to include a public option. It's over what kind. Brian Beutler and Carrie Budoff Brown have the essentials on the Senate situation.


Who is Us?

WASHINGTON--Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all. That's why the brawl in a single congressional district in far upstate New York is drawing the eyes of the nation. Conservatives are determined to use the race to prove that there is no place in the party for heretics, dissidents or independents. President Obama set up the fight by nominating the district's former representative, John McHugh, as his Army secretary.



Thursday October 8, 6:30 a.m., the phone rings. I pick up sleepily. "My family! My family! Magda … my family!" I hear sobbing and low, sad groans on the other end.


Newt Gone Wild

Via Alex Massie, I notice that New Gingrich is saying really, really crazy things (again!). Basking in the warm embrace of the National Review staff that interviewed him, the former speaker sounds positively deranged.


While this year has become best known as the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock, it was also forty years ago that the first African-American Studies department was established, at San Francisco State University. Forty-one fall semesters later, there are hundreds of such departments. Has what they teach evolved with the march of time? I explore that question here at the Minding the Campus site sponsored by my think tank.