Friday:Obama HC Summit Plan-No Public Option,Yes Excise Tax

Yesterday, I wrote about why it is a mistake for the Democrats to cling to the Senate Finance Committee’s funding mechanism for their health insurance “reform” bill, which is a punitive, regressive excise tax on the working class’s health insurance benefits themselves, which the White House persists in calling the “Cadillac tax.”…

Since Friday afternoon is always good for a newsdump, according to Chris Bowers at Open Left, Jillian Rayfield at TPMDC, and Greg Sargent at The Plum Line, we have the usual Democratic anonymous WH sources/leadership aides

 telling us that the President intends to offer the excise tax and no Public Option to the “Bipartisan” health care bill summit next Thursday Feb 25 th.


Okay, I’ve got some more info for you on what the health care compromise proposal that Obama will bring to the summit next week is going to look like.

Bottom line: It’s all but certain to have the Cadillac tax in it, even though House Dems oppose it, and no public option, aides say.


Oh, goody.

Now, last night at Open Left, we had the breathless BREAKING! applied to this little nugget:

Obama will support the public option if Reid will.…

Based on HHS Sec Kathleen Sebelius answering an interview question put to her by Rachel Maddow.

Check out this Research 2000 polling done in Nevada, this month 2/9 – 2/10/10 :  http://act.boldprogressives.or…

88% of Nevada Democrats and 61% of Independents favor a govt. admin health insurance plan “like Medicare” for younger people to be able to obtain as a choice to compete with private plans

89% of Nevada Democrats and 56% of Independents would prefer passing health insurance reform that includes a public option, and that would make them more likely to vote for Democrats in the 2010 elections, even if this meant the bill didn’t get Republican votes.

88% of Democrats and 58% of Independents think Harry Reid should include a Public Option in Reconciliation.

Today, Friday, President Obama did a joint appearance with Senate Majority Leader Reid at a town hall in a high school gym in Henderson, Nevada.  They hugged, they praised each other, they made boxing allegories.  

 “Health care has been knocking me around pretty good,” Obama said. “It’s been knocking Harry around pretty good.”

The goal was to shift the emphasis from the unpopularity of some of Reid’s votes to, in Obama’s view, the courage it took to take expensive steps to save the economy. “Sometimes he takes his licks,” Obama said of Reid. “But he gets back up. Harry Reid has never stopped fighting.”  

Yup. Harry’s never stopped fighting.  Fighting for what, we’re not sure, and in what decade, we don’t know, but he’s still in there, swingin’ away.   Harry’s sagging in the polls in his Nevada re election race.  Nevada, with the highest percentage of veterans and retirees in the nation (think living on fixed incomes), and an economy that depends on tourism and entertainment, has been battered brutally in this recession, as it also has a 13% unemployment rate, and the 2nd highest foreclosure rates in the nation.  Harry needs a Big Las Vegas Finale to pull this one off.  

The public narrative reshapes even as I type:

The Hill, this afternoon, about an hour ago, 4:47 EST, 1:47 PST…

Reid hints he could back public option

In a carefully-worded statement, Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau addressed majority leader’s stance on the government-run plan for the first time since a group of senators sparked talks of passing it using the controversial budget reconciliation process, which only requires the approval of 51 senators.

Mollineau said:

Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition. That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.

If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes.

Reno Gazette- Journal, today 2/19

 WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will support allowing the government to sell insurance in competition with private industry if the White House and Democratic leaders push a health care bill with no Republican backing.  

The Grand Rapids Press, Minnesota, today, an hour ago

It’s baaa-aaack.  

And a bit of cynicism from across the pond-  The Guardian UK, Michael Tomasky’s Blog…

I’ve been following, as I’m sure some of you have, the letter some Senate Democrats are signing in support of passing a health bill with — yes, with — a public option via the reconciliation route, i.e. requiring just a simple majority, not a 60-vote super-majority.


In a fund-raising email to supporters, Schumer announced that he had signed the letter, becoming the 17th senator to do so. He lauded the “tenacity” of the four senators who originally signed the letter.

Schumer makes it more serious. He’s part of the Senate Democratic leadership, he’s not thought of as an out-there liberal, and he’s a savvy insider who doesn’t typically attach his name to quixotic ventures.

But it’s a good gambit for pro-reform forces to play because it gives them something to negotiate down from. OK, we’ll drop the public option, but let’s just do this thing via reconciliation. Passage via reconciliation of a bill without the public option would then seem like a compromise to moderates.

So in other words, in the end, I suspect it’s just being used as a bargaining chip again. And Sebelius, and all administration officials, probably shouldn’t talk like this unless they mean it, given the way public option die-hards felt so burned last year when it was dropped.

Oh, dude, you have no idea how masochistic we yankee liberals are.  Guilt, guilt, give us some more !  

Letter? What letter ?  Senators Bennet (CO)  Gillenbrand (NY), Merkley (OR) and Brown (OH) sent a letter on the 16th asking Senate ML Reid to put the public option up for a vote before the Senate, using reconciliation rules.

excerpts from Bennet’s letter to Reid:…

There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach – its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.

A recent Health Care for America Now report on private insurance companies found that the largest five for-profit health insurance providers made $12 billion in profits last year, yet they actually dropped 2.7 million people from coverage.Private insurance – by gouging the public even during a severe economic recession – has shown it cannot function in the public’s interest without a public alternative. Americans have nowhere to turn. That is not healthy market competition, and it is not good for the public.

There is substantial Senate precedent for using reconciliation to enact important health care policies. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which actually contains the term ‘reconciliation’ in its title, were all enacted under reconciliation.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want a public option. The latest New York Times poll on this issue, in December, shows that despite the attacks of recent months Americans support the public option 59% to 29%. Support includes 80% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and even 33% of Republicans.  

According to Chris Bower’s count this afternoon, 20 Senators have signed on for including the public option via reconciliation, with 9 maybes and 5 noes, and 25 unknowns.

34 Senators are open to using reconciliation to finish health care reform, 5 are maybes, 1 is a no, and 19 are status unknown.

These numbers may be out of whack already, as Senator Arlen Specter of PA has just signed on to the Public Option by Reconciliation letter.  

On Monday, the White House version of the health care plan is supposed to go online, so Eric Cantor(R, Whip) and John Boehner(R, Minority Leader) can whine about it for 72 hours (that’s 3 days if you’re a Republican, so you have until Thursday the 25th)  in advance before the televised Bipartisan Health Care Summit.  

Here’s Cantor’s statement today, reaffirming his petulance:…

“If the President is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, he must take the reconciliation process – which will be used jam through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want – off the table. By using the reconciliation process, the Administration and Democrat leaders are sending a clear signal that they still refuse to listen to the American people and have no interest in bipartisanship. To be certain, by using the reconciliation process, the Administration makes clear that their promise of bipartisanship is dead.  

Reconciliation.  When you take what the House of Representatives has legislated and combine it with what the Senate has legislated in order to form a final bill product of a bicameral legislature.   Instead the present Republican Party wishes “Senate Only” legislation.  pfffffffffttt.   So much for them and democracy.  Move On.

Notice Cantor’s deep concern for 70 million uninsured Americans and 15 million unemployed ones.  

……. crickets  

Saturday Feb 27 is the one year anniversary of the Tea Party Movement, and they are planning street demonstrations that day, and house parties that evening to look at their “Tea Party Movie.”  They have a whole year’s worth of protests scheduled again.   If you are a Democrat, try not to act surprised by this, this time, okay ?  Because they post this crap all over the internet, and even you peeps in DC can look this up or read here.  Let me note again-  Tea Party Protestors have government run and funded health care- Medicare already, (or VA care) and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for younger people.  Can we stop with the hypocrisy?

In the meantime, the Senate Democrats have real work to do.  Will they be up to the challenge ?  Will they come thru for their people, or is this just another ploy to get the Senate version of the bill past the House with cosmetic changes?

This is where we are.  There’s the Prez with his Bipartisanshipthingee again.   Harry Reid, where are you ?  What will be your legacy ?  If an ailing Senator from New Jersey can sign onto a Public Option from his hospital bed, what is the excuse for the rest of the wafflers and the uncommitted ?



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  1. …. well, look who’s on first.  

  2. the first thing that comes to my mind is “I’ll support it if you do first.”

  3. Oh ok if Harry Reid does something with the public option, then Obama might not block it…

    But Obama’s own preference, and his own efforts once again skuttled the whole public option by choice, and removed it from any consideration in the White House proposal.

    This is leadership??

    Once again, Obama will do everything possible under the sun to encourage lawmakers to not go along with the public option, because they know that the White House (by their own submission) is really on the other side…

  4. …. one of the funniest things I read when I was researching it was one writer who said “according to my source (NOT RAHM)” when referring to his source.

    Now, a few hours after this started breaking late this afternoon,  Ezra the Boy Wonder with his direct line to Rahmanonymous  comes out with his usual Deep Concern that the revival of the Public Option could cause divisiveness amongst the Dems and it would be so difficult to pass it wouldn’t be “good for health care reform.”


    Well, not as far as I can tell. I’ve spoken to a lot of offices about this now, and all of them are ambivalent privately, even if they’re supportive publicly. No one feels able to say no to this letter, but none of them seem interested in reopening the wars over the public option. That’s why the White House kicked this at Reid and Reid tossed it back at the White House. If the public option is a done deal, everyone will sign on the dotted line. But between here and there is a lot of work that no one seems committed to doing, and that many fear will undermine the work being done on the rest of the bill.

    But it’s divisive on the Hill. Bringing it back energizes all the narratives that Democrats fear most: That they’re cutting secret deals without Republicans in the room, that they’re building an extremist bill, that health-care reform is a government takeover.

    I notice how all the MSM defers to the little twerp, because they really are afraid of somebody being vindictive in the White House and they realize he’s just the water carrier, anyway.

    Cynics may now feel happier.

    Don’t worry, I know exactly what they’re doing.  It’s just that I’m doing my thing, and that includes informing the public of what they’re doing while pushing for a better bill, instead of mandates to purchase crap, excise taxes that punish the working class, and listening to them whine about how the Senate rules prohibit them from actually doing anything, the useless sh*ts.    

  5. About the “public option”

    Well one must ask in this world of Newspeak what exactly does that mean

    You can download the application for MassHealth

    Look for what happens if you are over that ancient age 55

    The state bills your estate

    And do desire less each day to be plugging into the increasingly dysfunctional hypocondiac, Ask you doctor for,

    swine flu FEMA camp quarrantine center goat fuckery.

  6. and then slowly mix in one tbsp. of bread crumbs. Let stand for two hours and then cover with small marshmallows.  

    • Eddie C on February 20, 2010 at 20:00

    She was being interviewed on the PBS Newshour and asked if Barack Obama was behind a public option. Her answer as the head of HHS was “I think So.”

    It was a “see the writing on the walls experience” for me and it has gone downhill ever since.

    This excise tax is a done deal and like Night Owl wrote “Health Care Summit is all just political Kabuki.” Something to keep the liberals occupied.  

    • dkmich on February 21, 2010 at 14:05

    Middle class tax cuts.  No mandates.  Public option. CAFE.  DADT. Renegotiate NAFTA.  Yes we can.    

    • Xanthe on February 21, 2010 at 17:38

    This is really torture.  

    Just get it over and screw us over already – there will be no public option but

    There will be a gala signing ceremony.

    And the teabaggers will still be out there talking about “big government” even without po.  They should be worried about Medicare (and I don’t mean the Silver shoes type Medicare – which should be cut) because the cuts are coming to the basic plan.  

    ARC – How is the Dick Armey litigation coming along – you know the one where he gets to keep his congressional plan and he can get rid of Medicare?  I think I’ll google it.    

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