January 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Realistically, there are only two choices now: either pass the Senate
bill or else wait another 15 years for any kind of serious healthcare
reform. That's it. That's the choice.
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This latest reported by Suzy Khimm (in Jon Cohn's blog) doesn't exactly give me a lot of confidence.
“The House needs to be very careful about not merely rubber-stamping
the Senate bill and sending that to the president… I just don’t think
it’s wise policy or wise politics to merely regurgitate [it],” Rep.
Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told
me this morning. He added that the promise to “fix” the Senate bill
through separate legislation after the House passed it was
unconvincing. “I don’t see the side-by-side thing working both
procedurally and politically.
Instead, Grijalva proposed that the existing legislation be amended
and sent back to the Senate to pass through budget reconciliation,
which would only require 51 votes. “It could pass through
reconciliation—it just depends on how skittish the Senate is at this
point.” Using budget reconciliation
to pass the bill would be politically messy would force the leadership
to strip out many key provisions of reform, including many of the new
regulatory reforms that don’t directly affect the budget. But, Grijalva
said, it would leave Congress with “the option to deal with what the
public option presence is going to be,” calling the public plan “the
biggest deficit reducer” on the table.
1) Is Grijalva really this ignorant? I fear yes– we've certainly seen from plenty of Republicans that a below average IQ is no impediment to serving in Congress. Existing legislation cannot be simply amended and sent back through reconciliation. A large number of key reforms, e.g., no denial for pre-existing conditions, the health care exchanges, etc., have nothing to do with the budget and thus cannot go through the reconciliation process. Does Grijalva not know this?
2) Likewise, the weak public option in the current House bill does pretty much nothing to control costs. A stronger public option that would actually control costs does not have 218 votes due to conservative Dems who've sold out to the medical-industrial complex. Does Grijalva not know this?
I expect that sadly, most members of Congress remain shamefully ignorant on the issue.
Not if they fail to pass health care reform. Great quote from Ezra Klein:
For now, it's worth observing that a Democratic Party that would
abandon their central initiative this quickly isn't a Democratic Party
that deserves to hold power. If they don't believe in the importance of
their policies, why should anyone who's skeptical change their mind? If
they're not interested in actually passing their agenda, why should
voters who agree with Democrats on the issues work to elect them? A
commitment provisional on Ted Kennedy not dying and Martha Coakley not
running a terrible campaign is not much of a commitment at all.
I fear the answer posed in the question of my post is, "no." And again, if you have any doubts at all as to whether passing health care reform is the right move for the Democrats at this point, Jon Cohn very clearly lays out the case. If Democrats pass health care reform, they are still looking at a really tough November 2010. If they fail to pass it, they are looking at electoral doom (and I almost want to say deservedly so, but not really because it does come back to the inane embrace of the Filibuster as a de facto supermajority).