Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Health Care State of Play

From Chris Bowers at Open Left

# In the House, the public option tied to Medicare rates has 200 confirmed supporters. However, that appears to include the leadership at this point. Further, the count will drop to 199 when Robert Wexler leaves Congress, and his replacement will not be sworn in before the health care vote. The CA-10 and NY-23 special elections will both take place on November 3rd, with the former guaranteed to send another public option supporter to Congress and the latter guaranteed to send a public option opponent.

Worth noting: Of the four dozen undecided and "lean no" members the Progressive Caucus is targeting at this point, half were first elected in 2004, 2006 or 2008. As such, it really shouldn't be difficult for the overall House leadership to pass a public option with Medicare +5% rates if they wanted to. If they want access to the party treasury for re-election, then they better not sink the policy aims of the overwhelming majority of the party.

# In the Senate, despite Lieberman's recent grumblings, everything I hear still points to Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson as the main obstacles to passing a public option. As leader of the Conservadems (looking in to increase power), as someone who voted against the budget (appears to oppose even the principle of universal health care), and as a scorned Vice-Presidential short-lister who shifted sharply to the right in 2009, Evan Bayh strikes me as particularly problematic. Check out this quote of his in the Politico, where he basically says he will join in a Republican filibuster against virtually any health care bill:
"It's not fair to ask people to facilitate the enactment of policies with which we ultimately disagree," said moderate Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "So the closer we get to the end of the process, the more, for me, the process and policy will be one and the same."
It isn't fair, eh? How about the fairness of the Senate elevating itself to unicameral status through its culture of 60-votes? Is it "fair" to use the filibuster to destroy the branch of Congress that actually has equal representation for the American people?

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