Progressives Will Have the Last Word on Health-Care Reform

Winter Blues wallpaper

Like sands through an hour glass or probably more like cold molasses through a small funnel, so is the progress on health-care reform. One of the things that we have to look forward to after the Senate finishes whittling reform down to bare bones is the reconciliation process. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), one of our stiff backed non-progressive Democratic leaders gives us a hint at the hurdles ahead. Real reformers want to set the rates at which services are paid just above what Medicare pays. This option has the advantage of truly living up to one of the major purposes of the public-option, driving down costs. The Senate’s version has left the door open for negotiated rates – you know out of concern that doctors might not be able to buy a new Euro sports sedan every year. That scenario maims the savings goals of a real public option. There is a rumored compromise as reported by TPM,

There is a third version of the public option under consideration in the House–one that would use negotiated rates at first, but would allow Medicare rates to kick in unless sufficient savings were realized. Hoyer didn’t address that option. But nonetheless, those are some very candid, on the record suggestions that the House bill is likely to include a less-than-maximal public option.

Can Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid perform miracles. Harry did some boxing in his youth, so just for fun let’s not be too cynical and count him out just yet, Reid hopes to sway enough senators on ‘public option’

Reid needs 60 votes to prevent Republicans from using parliamentary tactics that would keep the bill from coming to the floor — and eventually from being brought to a final vote.

Reid needs all 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats, or some Republican defectors.
He is gambling that there are enough carrots and sticks lying around Capitol Hill to line up the votes he needs.

A senior Democrat said that there were about 10 Democratic senators whose support had yet to be nailed down.

Among them is Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who says he is worried about the bill’s fiscal impact. But Reid has made him more amenable to it by promising to modify a proposed 10-year, $40-billion excise tax on manufacturers of medical devices, a major Indiana industry.

Anyone feigning outrage at offering incentives to Senators like Bayh needs to get up to speed on the reality of Beltway politics regardless of which party is steering the gravy train – see Delay, Tom – Republican Pay for Play extraordinaire. Dems are still lightweights at the game or we’d have passed a public option in September. The sound tap dancing Senators is frequently the kabuki theater that goes along with pay attention to me and give me some’n or I ain’t gonna vote for your stink’n bill. Don’t hate Joe Lieberman, he will not be gone until 2012, but he will be gone. Somebody Buy Joe Lieberman a Puppy

The reason this is a little scary for Democrats is because the usual things that serve to motivate a Congressman don’t seem to motivate Joe Lieberman.

Would voting to filibuster the Democrats’ health care bill (if it contains a decent public option) endear Lieberman to his constituents? No; Connecticutians favor the public option 64-31.

Would it make his path to re-election easier? No, because it would virtually assure that Lieberman faces a vigorous and well-funded challenge from a credible, capital-D Democrat, and polls show him losing such a match-up badly.

Joe is not an really an independent. He belongs to the Party of Lieberman’s Ego. Part of the rituals of that cult of one is the willingness to not just commit political suicide, but to kill a few of his fellow Americans along the way. Not surprsingly Lieberman does have a Conservative bromide to toss to the press. Which they’re happy to simply repeat without question – reform will cost too much. Only that is not true. A final bill will be at least fiscally neutral and may save the federal budget billions in the long run. The last bill on which the CBO ran numbers also agreed, CBO: New Baucus Deficit Neutral Bill Costs $829B, Will Reduce Deficit By $81 Billion Over Next Decade. The Lieberman and right-wing talking point involves some slight of hand. Its consists of pleading with the public and the media to please pay attention to this hand which is spending about $800 billion dollars. Anti-reformers do not want anyone looking at the big picture because that would include the savings. If you spend a dollar to save ten dollars, most families get that – change the oil for 20 bucks so you do not have to buy a rebuilt engine for a thousand. If some kind of genuine reform is not passed the Politico-Fox- WaPo-Sunday talk show cliched Beltway mentality will kick off with oh my, what a tremendous defeat for Democrats. Its going to be painful to watch as millions more Americans become financially crippled by health-care costs or lack of any insurance at all, but what goes around comes around and it bites. In 2012 who is going to get the blame for the health-care equivalent of the Wall St meltdown. Republicans and conservative Democrats. Lieberman, Fox, the tea baggers etc think they have it all figured out. They’re driving another nail into modern conservatism’s casket.