Friday, February 19, 2010

President Ahab

According to the New York Times, President Obama, "...will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week...". According to Presidential aides, President Obama intends to get his bill attached to a budget bill so that it can pass the Senate under reconciliation. Reconciliation will allow it to pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of the filibuster proof 60 votes. The President plans on placing his bill on the White House website Monday morning. This will be four days before his meeting with Republicans to discuss health care reform, or the President's own personal whale.

The only other details that have been released about the President's bill is that it would attempt to cover 30 Million Americans by 2019 (thus still not providing health care insurance for everyone), would cost about $900 Billion, would require Americans to buy health insurance or be fined, would make it illegal for insurance companies to exclude pre-existing conditions, and provide tax subsidies to "moderate-income" people to buy insurance. The New York Times quotes "Officials" as saying the President's bill will also tax "high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance policies," and would also, "reflect a deal reached with labor union leaders to limit the impact tax on workers". Abortion has not been mentioned one way or another on in the details that have been leaked.

I think it is interesting that the President is working on a bill that is a compromise between House and the Senate Democrats ahead of his meeting with Republicans. The meeting with Republicans is supposed to be so that the President can listen to their ideas. How can anyone believe he is going to do this if he has already written his own bill that he is trying to get support for? Additionally, some Democrats are nervous about the bill because they haven't been consulted about it, and are a little uneasy about using the reconciliation process to pass such a huge, far reaching bill.

I think the President has shown his hand. The meeting next week is a show meeting to attempt to trick voters into believing he has listened to anything the Republicans have to say. I also think passing this bill under reconciliation is the very epitome of Washington Politics that Candidate Obama ran claiming to oppose. The President may also be surprised at how hard it is to use the reconciliation option after the recent Massachusetts elections with many Democrats nervous about their chances in November.

The President has taken his eye off the ball when it comes to the economy. He has become obsessed with passing a health care bill, any health care bill. Democrats would be wise to give up this white whale and try to deal with the problems that are really affecting our nation.

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