S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Obama Materially Ups the Ante on Health Care Reform

President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders will meet for a televised "Health Care Summit" on Thursday of this week.  It is clearly a calculated risk for everyone involved.  And it will likely be the Obama administration's last try for the health care reform legislation that has so far eluded Congress.  According to the New York Times, "President Obama on Monday issued his own blueprint for a health care overhaul, challenged Republicans to come forward with their ideas and laid the groundwork for an aggressive parliamentary maneuver to pass the legislation using only Democratic votes if this week brings no progress toward a bipartisan solution." To quote further:

The bill, which the White House estimates would cost $950 billion over a decade, aims to fulfill Mr. Obama’s goals of expanding coverage to millions of people who are uninsured, while taking steps to control soaring health care costs. It sticks largely to the version passed by the Senate in December, but offers some concessions to House leaders who have demanded more help for middle-class people.
. . . Republicans say they do not share the goal of a comprehensive bill, but White House officials say they can shift the debate to their terms if it is framed as a choice between competing ideas rather than a referendum on the Democrats’ legislation.

The administration's new proposal "would extend coverage to 31 million people, raise taxes on the wealthy and ratchet up regulations on insurers."  The president is staying on the offense with his version of the health care reform bill, posted online this week.  Republicans have yet to post their proposals.  To quote the WaPo article:
. . . the president's proposal is striking for the extent to which it hews to the basic scale and framework of the bills on which Congress has toiled for months.
. . . Now, the White House is working to sell the president's plan as a reasonable compromise that bridges differences between the House and Senate versions and includes select ideas from Republicans. And they hope that, even if it fails, the new push can put Republicans on the defensive.
Well before the Thursday summit, which will be broadcast live on television, White House officials are making the case that Republicans must bring their own alternatives if they object to the Obama plan -- or risk being portrayed as obstructionists. . .
The White House's best hope -- perhaps its only hope -- is that Obama can use a masterful performance during the six-hour appearance to "stiffen the spine" of congressional Democrats, one senior official said, persuading them to pass health-care legislation using the mechanism known as reconciliation, which requires a simple majority of 51 rather than 60 votes to prevail in the Senate.

The stakes have been raised, and the players have decided where to place their bets, arranging to get them covered is they lose.  Which side is bluffing, which side has the cards and who wins the match will become apparent in the next few weeks. Our bet is on President Obama.

Bonus references: 
  •  Obama's health care proposal at a glance, in the Washington Post (2/22/10).  It ". . . includes some key changes. What's the same, what's different and what it could ultimately mean for you:"
  • "The Obama presidency: In-depth news, commentary and analysis on Barack Obama's White House agenda" is from The Financial Times - February 2010. 

No comments: