(Jim Clark) – Well, I’ll bet about this time Pres. Obama wishes he could start all over with his health care legislation.
He’s showing his inexperience, having only been a state legislator and a US senator for less than a full term. His big mistake was in letting Congress author the legislation instead of having the White House draft it and send it over to Capitol Hill. The result has been that the cognizant House & Senate committees have “larded” up every version of the proposal to please the various special interests that contribute to their campaigns.
No version of any Democratic bill, proposed or approved, deals with measures to reduce the enormous costs of medical malpractice insurance and excessive test ordering. These are two huge components of skyrocketing medical costs but Democrats won’t deal with them because the largest source of Democratic Party campaign contributions comes from members of the American Trial Lawyers Association.
The result has been a number of different versions of bills and draft legislation which reflect the preferences of the Democratic committee chairs which authored them. Just this week the Associated Press reported that President Obama met with the Hispanic Democratic House caucus who came to insist that any final version of a health care reform bill must not prohibit illegal aliens’ ability to purchase health coverage in the government run marketplace proposed in the 1,990 page “Pelosi” bill.
“We made it very clear that 20 votes in the Hispanic Caucus depend on the language in the House bill” Said Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D – NY). However Obama favors such a bar and the Senate bill contains an explicit prohibition.
The other evening I was surprised to see Fox News conducting an interview with Cong. Gene Taylor (D – MS). I wondered why Fox would give a Democrat national face time and also wondered how a Democrat could get elected in Mississippi. By the end of the interview I had both answers.
Taylor is a “Blue Dog” Democrat, one of 52 such Democratic congresspersons who signed a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) saying that any health care reform bill must: (1) be deficit neutral, (2) lower health care costs, (3) protect small businesses, (4) address rural health care and (5) be bipartisan by earning substantial Republican support. Everything currently under consideration is batting zero out of five on the Blue Dog scoreboard.
The Hispanics and the Blue Dogs represent 72 Democratic opposition votes, enough to kill health care reform even without Republican opposition, so President Obama has his work cut out for him.
Meanwhile, at the end of October, Republicans formally introduced their bill, a mere 219 pages of double spaced text. If the GOP had its way they would:
(1) lower health care premiums, according to the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”), by nearly $5,000 per family;
(2) guarantee affordable, non-cancelable health insurance coverage irrespective of preexisting conditions;
(3) protect Medicare from cuts proposed by Democrats;
(4) incentivize small businesses to offer health care coverage;
(5) enact real “junk lawsuit” reform with laws modeled after successful statutes of California and Texas;
(6) promote innovation and emphasize prevention and wellness;
(7) prohibit abortion funding;
(8) allow Americans to buy insurance across state lines; and
(9) reduce the deficit by $68 billion over ten years according to the CBO.
Hmmm. Sounds a whole lot like what the Blue Dogs are looking for. Wonder what President Obama is going to do about that Hispanic Congressional Caucus.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)