Weak Attempt to Salvage ObamaCare
By Amanda J. Reinecker
Yesterday, after a temporary lull in the health care debates, President Obama released a "fresh attempt" to salvage his health care overhaul agenda. Though the details will not be released for some time, the ideas at the core of this 11-page outline (embedded in article) aren’t really so "fresh." Based largely on the Senate’s flawed plan, the "new" proposal is riddled with many of the same harmful taxes, dubious mandates, and unprecedented federal regulatory powers.
But even though the Senate bill serves as its template, the president’s proposal does have some new initiatives — and they add up to $80 billion. This would increase the overall cost of health care "reform" to a staggering $950 billion over ten years, a cost likely to rise as the legislative text is finalized.
Perhaps the most alarming difference is the prospect of a Federal Health Insurance Rate Authority, which would grant federal bureaucrats the power to set and control insurance prices and thus effectively create a government-run health plan. "If government can control both health benefits and health care pricing, that’s the proverbial ball game,"writes Heritage health policy expert Bob Moffit. "Private health care is private in name only."
Although President Obama doesn’t use the ‘reconciliation’ word, I can’t imagine he meant the following statements as anything other than a threat to use pass Obamacare by reconciliation and let the voters pass judgment at the polls in November.
From the video:
“What I do know is this, if we saw movement, significant movement, not just gestures, then you wouldn’t need to start over because essentially everybody here knows what the issues are, and procedurally it could get done fairly quickly.
“We cannot have another year long debate about this. So, the question I’m going to ask myself and I ask all of you is, is there enough serious effort that in a month’s time or a few week’s time or six week’s time we could actually resolve something? And if we can’t I think we got to go ahead and make some decisions and that’s what elections are for. We have honest disagreements about the vision for the country and we’ll go ahead and test those out over the next several months until November. Alright?”
Krauthammer: "If you win the presidency…you do not become the arbiter of legitimacy in American discourse." Yet… Just how many times today did Obama use the "I’m the president" routine?
Ben Stein Accuses Obama of Treating the Republicans Like Third Graders
By Heather Thursday Feb 25, 2010 3:47pm
Oh my, Ben Stein is apparently upset that the Republicans weren’t being treated respectfully enough during the health care summit by the President. Heaven forbid… he called them by their first names. Gasp… the horror Ben. Yeah, those poor little defenseless Republicans who never attack anyone just had to fight back here because big bad Obama was being mean to them. And CNN thinks we’re supposed to take anything this clown says seriously. I’m surprised Stein didn’t just come straight out and call the President "uppity" because he came pretty close here.
BLITZER: Let’s bring in Donna Brazile and Ben Stein, because I want them to weigh in. First to you, Ben. This whole issue of costs, premiums going up, a trillion dollars in extra cost to US taxpayers. Some of it might be offset by some cuts in projected Medicare spending. Where do you come down on this?
STEIN: Well, the 57 percent who are going to get subsidies, where is that money going to come from? That money is going to come from taxpayers. That money is not going to just magically appear. So the costs for everyone is going to go up.
Obviously, the insurance companies are going to cover more people, cover people with preexisting conditions, cover people who have very expensive treatment options involved, without having to charge more to somebody. So, somebody’s going to be paying more.
I’m also sort of floored by the whole thing that’s going on here, where the president is calling the senators by their first names, as if they were kids in a third grade class. And they’re all calling him Mr. President.
But I’m most floored of all by the fact that we’ve got a very serious jolt about the economy today, and somehow they’re talking about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when it looks seriously as if the economy is now heading for a double dip in the recession. The whole thing just has a kind of surrealistic quality.
BLITZER: What was the jolt on the economic numbers that you’re referring to?
STEIN: The jobless — the first-time jobless claims came in considerably higher than was forecast, high enough to make people think that the recovery is faltering. They were expecting 455,000, came in roughly 495,000, very roughly, very roughly. That’s a very bad piece of news. Housing sales declined very sharply in the last month, from the month before. This recovery is not getting the traction that it needs. And for us to be fixating on economic issues about health care that are going to be happening in 2016 when the economy is floundering right now puzzles me.
BLITZER: Ben Stein, first to you. The president, you know, he’s fighting right back in the face of some strong Republican comments.
STEIN: Well, I think he’s been fighting from the first moment this thing started. I think the idea that it was a bipartisan kumbaya feel-good moment was thrown out right away, as soon as he started and as soon as Senator Reid started and as soon as Speaker Pelosi started, they started with a series of attacks. And the Republicans have come right back with a series of their own attacks.
I will say, however, that I am sometimes moved to tears that in the fact that this great, great country, the greatest country in the world, people do by in large get along quite civilly. But if I may respectfully say so, I think the president could lose some of his condescension towards the people who are not agreeing with him, and nobody would be harmed.
Conrad Says HC Bill Is Dead Unless House Acts First
By Philip Klein on 2.24.10 @ 11:48AM
U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Budget Committee, dealt a blow to the prospects for health care legislation just a day before a White House summit, arguing that the process would be "dead" if the House doesn’t act first to pass the Senate bill.
The statement is sure to enflame members of the House, who are reluctant to take a leap of faith and pass the Senate bill without knowing that it will be changed through reconciliation in the Senate.
Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler reports:
"The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) outside the upper chamber this morning. "That’s the only way that works."
I pointed out that House leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly insisted they won’t take a flier on a reconciliation package–that they will only pass the Senate billafter the smaller side-car reconciliation bill has been all wrapped up.
"Fine, then it’s dead," Conrad said.
Conrad added that he wouldn’t personally make any promises or symbolic gestures to House members to assure them that the Senate can or will take any action in a reconciliation bill to address House concerns.
"I don’t sign any blank check," Conrad said.
As I detailed yesterday, health care already faces a tough road in the House, even assuming that some changes can be made by the Senate. Statements such as this one from Conrad (who as chairman of the Budget Committee would play a key role in any reconciliation strategy) will only fuel more animosity between House and Senate Democrats, and create a dilemma in which neither side wants to act first.
It is hard to see how the Democrats are doing themselves anything but harm with the health-care summit.
Beyond particular observations about individual exchanges or moments I would say the morning’s session suggests three broad points. First, the Democrats appear to have no particular purpose in mind for this event. They’re not driving anywhere, or making a clear individual case, while Republicans clearly want to get across the point that we should scrap the current bills and start over in pursuit of a few incremental steps. The Democrats may have thought that simply putting the spotlight on Republicans when the subject is health care would make the GOP look bad. But Republicans so far seem prepared enough and focused enough to avoid that, and to make the Democrats look rather aimless by comparison.
Second, the Democrats are going to great lengths to argue that their bill incorporates some Republican ideas—by which they mean that it includes insurance exchanges and the like—suggesting that this means they are moving in the direction of Republicans and toward some middle ground. They fail to see (or to acknowledge) that while some similar mechanisms may be proposed by wonks on both sides, Republicans and Democrats in fact want to move in nearly opposite directions from our current health-care arrangements: Republicans toward a genuine individual market and Democrats toward a greater socialization of costs. That makes a great deal of what Obama and the Democrats said this morning basically meaningless. (This is a point I tried to argue more fully in this space a while back.)
Third, an important part of the Democrats’ problem is that Obama himself is their only star, and this format is not working for him. He certainly seems engaged and well informed (even given a few misstatements of fact, at least one of which John Kyl made very clear.) But he doesn’t seem like the President of the United States—more like a slightly cranky committee chairman or a patronizing professor who thinks that saying something is “a legitimate argument” is a way to avoid having an argument. He is diminished by the circumstances, he’s cranky and prickly when challenged, and he’s got no one to help him. The other Democrats around the table have been worse than unimpressive. The Republicans seem genuinely well-prepared, seem to have thought through the question of who should speak about what rather carefully, and several of them have done quite a good job making their case against the Democrats’ approach. If we were to judge by debating points, Republicans certainly won the morning handily.
It’s easy to dismiss all this by saying no one is watching anyway, but that’s not quite true. The purpose of this spectacle is not so much to move the public as to move Democratic members of Congress—to create some momentum that might last long enough to help wavering Democrats cast a very painful vote. That audience very likely is watching, and they are seeing their leadership fail to make a straightforward case for the Democratic approach to health care, or to respond to the most basic Republican objections about high costs, excessive spending, overregulation, and the effect of this plan on American families. They are managing to lose an argument about health care to Republican members of Congress—no mean feat.
Charles Krauthammer said, “In the last few minutes after 7-hours that the whole summit was a show to justify reconciliation, which is what they wanted to do all along!!”
Please keep up the good fight. The president intimated that his would be the final chapter on this Bill and HC Reform, at least for now. Let us make it is the final chapter of ObamaCare type of reform and that it doesn’t pass. Right now they don’t have the votes!!!
2/3 of the HC Bill Passed Already! Hidden in the Stimulus Package that No One in Congress Read… Done Deal!!! – With Back-up Research But they need some kind of actual HC Bill to activate most of these diabolical measures… Wake-up America!
Accurate quote should be: It’s Not a HealthCare Bill… It’s a Power Grab Bill, America!!
I’m sure there will be many moments from today’s health-care summit that will be worthy of clipping and saving, but this one from our new colleague Greg Hengler may be the strangest one of all. In arguing for the current version of ObamaCare, whatever that is at the moment, Nancy Pelosi claims that it will create four million jobs — or nearly half of all the jobs lost over the last two years:
Let’s put this in perspective. The health-care sector already employs 14.3 million people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this sector will add 3.2 million more people in the next eight years, thanks to an aging population. It can do that now because it doesn’t operate under price controls that will come as part of the ObamaCare bill. If Congress passes a bill that forces smaller payments to doctors and hospitals, that will actually impede hiring to meet the demand — and that is exactly what “bending the cost curve downward” means.
Pelosi also claims that passing the House version of ObamaCare would add 400,000 new jobs immediately. Where? Well, those would be the people that the government would have to hire to run their exchanges, manage the federal public option, and enforce individual mandates, among other ObamaCare initiatives. It’s a bureaucratic expansion, the kind of “jobs bill” that will further burden the private sector.
The last 5-minutes of the Summit said it all… Obama intimated that they would do whatever it takes (Saul Alinsky all the way) to get this bill passed without real bipartisan input or compromise and in the end that means reconciliation even if the American people don’t want this bill. The only problem is that right now… Congress doesn’t even have the votes for that. So stay committed and keep up the pressure.