Thank you, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter.
12:32 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver -- "deem and pass" -- reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of "deem and pass" is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation "fixes" rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation "fixes" make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.
Here's what Democrats will be asked to vote for Sunday (thanks to Keith Hennessey for his useful list):
* Additional tax increases, on top of the ones in the Senate bill. The reconciliation bill raises the Medicare payroll tax by 0.9% to a combined employer-employee 3.8% for individuals with income over $200K and couples over $250K, and, beginning in 2013, creates a new 3.8% tax on some capital income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents for those individuals and families.
* Even deeper cuts to Medicare Advantage, which will mean fewer and less attractive Medicare Advantage plans available to seniors.
* Increases in the employer penalties for not complying with the mandates, which will hit all businesses with more than 50 employees.
Now, Democratic leaders will tell members that there are some popular things in the new package -- for example, the one-time $250 “rebate” in 2010 for seniors who reach the Medicare drug benefit coverage gap. But they're likely wrong that even this will be popular. In an era of concern about the deficit, the giveaway will be ridiculed as an attempt at pure election-year vote-buying, and will backfire.
What's more, the reconciliation bill the House will be voting on has several clear Byrd rule violations. Senate Republicans will be able to use the Byrd rule to strike these provisions from the bill. So if the Senate then passes a modified reconciliation bill, it will return it to the House, which will have to vote on a version of this bill AGAIN.
The Democrats would actually be better off -- well, less worse off -- simply voting to pass the Senate bill. But by embracing the Slaughter Rule and this package of reconciliation fixes, they've managed to make a bad political situation for themselves worse. Congratulations!
It all starts in the House Budget Committee.5:00 PM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Nancy Pelosi does not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the Senate health care bill. She's planning to go ahead without the votes of the Stupak 12. Today the Senate parliamentarian ruled the Senate bill must become law before "fixes" can be made via the parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation. The GOP Senate caucus will rigorously enforce the Byrd rule, limiting the reconciliation changes to budget matters and nothing more.
What's going on? The final push for Obamacare is about to begin. It starts on Monday, when the House Budget Committee will insert reconciliation instructions into the November House health care bill. By late Monday / early Tuesday, Budget will pass this bill and send it to the House Rules Committee, where Pelosi will change the language so that it matches the Senate bill. This is the final compromise legislation that may come to a vote on the House floor within weeks. "They're creating the shell," says Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The time for talk is over ... until I want to talk again!11:34 AM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
In health care speech number 37, President Obama told his audience in St. Louis, Missouri, yesterday that "the time for talk is over." He's said this before, of course, and it wasn't any truer then than it is now. The talking won't stop until the bill is passed -- and even then, the talking won't stop, because disagreement is far more common than consensus. And even if the GOP doesn't repeal health care reform, it will seek to change the policy and shift it in a consumer-oriented, free-market direction over time.
The desire to stop talking reflects a deeper antagonism toward politics. Read George Will's column today: "Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens."
Channeling the ghost of Tip O'Neill.2:02 PM, Mar 4, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Michael Barone writes:
"Remember the old Tip O’Neill story: after an aide referred to the House Republicans as “the enemy,” O’Neill corrected him. “The House Republicans are not the enemy, they’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
Nevertheless, the Obama administration (itself fast becoming the truest enemy of the House) wants the House to pass the Senate version of ObamaCare, hand it over to the president to sign into law, and then trust that the Senate will then -- and only then -- begin to fix some of the parts of the bill to which the House most strongly objects. Oh, and the Senate would do so using a "budget reconciliation" process that Americans strongly oppose, and would do so even though it would then be making the bill look more like what the House wanted and less like what the Senate wanted. Meanwhile, the administration would have lost all interest and would therefore be putting no pressure on the Senate to act, because it would then already have its coveted comprehensive bill in hand.
Counting the health care votes. 9:30 AM, Mar 3, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
ObamaCare supporters are trying to take encouragement from a new Associated Press survey, which shows that nine of the 39 House Democrats who are in the enviable position of having voted "no" on ObamaCare the first time around have now either "declined to state their positions or [have] said they were undecided about the proposed legislation" this time around. These nine Democrats, on average, represent districts where Democratic presidential candidates have done 11 percentage points worse than the national average over the last three elections, and 35 points worse than in Massachusetts. They are not likely to jump aboard the good ship ObamaCare, which sits ablaze in the water after having been fatally struck by a Scott Brown torpedo.
10:16 AM, Mar 2, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
First Pelosi, and now Hoyer:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says there is no truth to reports that President Barack Obama will press Congress to pass a significantly smaller healthcare reform bill.
"I don't have reason to believe that that's accurate," Hoyer told The Hill following a speech at a Federation of American Hospitals conference Tuesday.
Congress disputes the White House's sunny rhetoric.9:05 AM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Commentators who are convinced the Obama health bill still stands a chance of becoming law won't like Susan Ferrechio's Washington Examiner report on yesterday's Senate Democratic caucus meeting. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said health care didn't even come up; "There was a lot of discussion obviously on jobs and what's happening with that."
The only hope for supporters of the bill is that the House will somehow miraculously pass the Senate legislation, leaving the Senate to pass "fixes" through the reconciliation process, which requires only a majority vote. But House passage requires 218 votes -- votes Nancy Pelosi does not have. And is it really likely she'll get them as the midterm election approaches?
John Kerry has the answer: "I don't know if that is achievable," he said yesterday. "I guess I feel the imperatives of doing nothing are very powerful and therefore I'm hopeful that in the end, common sense is going to win out. But I don't want to put odds on it. This is Washington."
He does not sound like a confident man.
8:24 AM, Jan 27, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear report:
With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them.
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” Mr. Reid said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.”
Reid makes some gestures toward the reconciliation option, but expect more red-state Democrats to come out against such a move. Meanwhile, Steny Hoyer says, "We're trying to figure out as well what can pass." Meaning: Neither bill that we have already passed will become law. Obamacare as we know it is finished.
Nothing is inevitable.
Let the recriminations begin!
‹‹ More Recent