Posts Tagged ‘Health care reform’

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) won’t seek reelection

April 9, 2010

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) announced today that he won’t seek reelection, stating

It’s time for me to move on.

Stupak’s reelection campaign was bound to be tough due to his prominent role in the final passage of the health care reform bill. With this as a backdrop, Stupak steps aside in the hopes that another Democrat can win his seat.

Interested in Stupak’s role in the passage of the health care bill? Read our review of the abortion controversy in the health care debate here, and let us know what you think.


President Obama signs the Health Care and Student Loan Reconciliation Bill

March 30, 2010

President Obama put the final signatures on the health care legislation today, and it’s now finally signed, sealed and delivered. After more than a year with heated debate, Democrats are badly bruised, and the Obama Administration is still waiting for a lasting bump in the tracking polls. What are your thoughts on the final legislation?

President Obama Signs the Health Care Bill

March 23, 2010

Today, in the Blue Room of the White House, President Obama signed the Senate bill passed by the House 219-212 on Sunday. The bill contains the so-called Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid, and the Louisiana Purchase (which will remain after the Senate’s reconciliation). In other words, the job isn’t finished yet, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed a letter stating he’ll finish the job in the Senate with a simple majority (i.e. reconciliation). Signed, sealed, but not yet quite delivered.

(Official White House photos by Pete Souza)

The House passes the Senate Health Care Bill

March 22, 2010

On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments (H R 3590): 219-212

On Passage of Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H R 4872): 220-211

In the end, the Democrats not only got 216 votes, but 219 (and 220). This way, no single Democrat can be accused by his or her opponent in the upcoming midterm elections of having been the single vote who tipped the tally in the favor of the Democrats.

Official White House photographer Pete Souza took this picture of President Obama in the Roosevelt Room during the passage of the bill (with a picture of FDR – who passed Social Security – on the wall to the left):

In his remarks following the passage of the bill, President Obama stated that:

Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party. It’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people, and it’s a victory for common sense. … We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things. … We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.

Politico writes that the passage of the bill provides President Obama with an immense and immediate boost, while calling it a split decision for House Democrats. Townhall, on the other hand, writes that:

Strict partisanship has carried the day, and our health care system will never be the same.

Finally, take the time to watch House Minority Leader John Boehner’s remarks on the House floor:

We have failed to listen to America. And We have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.

Even if you disagree with the content of the health care reform awaiting the signature of President Obama, the fact remains: History was made today.

Read more here: Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, Washington Examiner, The New Republic.

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Getting to 216

March 18, 2010

Portrayed as the most important week in Barack Obama’s presidency thus far, with “the fate of his presidency” hinging on the up-coming health reform vote in the House, the big question remains: Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?

Part A of that answer is “no she doesn’t”, but part B is “she’ll get there soon.”

Several “no” votes have already pledged that they’ll vote “yes” the next time around. The most prominent shift so far: Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Appearing on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on March 8, Kucinich stated that “without a robust public option that covers enough people to make a tangible market impact, it’s not worth making any effort to woo his vote” [paraphrased]. With that said, the wooing began, and after a one on one with the President, Kucinich stated on March 17 that:

This is a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off square one on the issue of health care. And so even though I don’t like the bill, I’ve made a decision to support it in the hopes that we can move towards a more comprehensive approach once this legislation is done.

While Kucinich has swallowed some pride and moved a few steps to the center (while at the same time getting a lot of press attention, some face time with the President and a demonstration of his political importance), the key opponents to the Senate bill remain on the right side of the political spectrum within the Democratic Caucus. Abortion opponents – led by Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) – have pledged to oppose the Senate bill because it doesn’t, in their view, go as far as it should (i.e. the House bill). Stupak originally had about a dozen votes behind him, but he recently lost one of them when Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) stated that he would vote yes. Does this signal the beginning of the end of Stupak’s no-bloc, or are the ones remaining intent on sticking with the position on abortion originally advocated by the Catholic leadership?

In the end, the most important question isn’t “Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?”, but “Who wants to be the single vote standing in the way of health reform?”

“Yae” or “nay”, Democrats running for re-election in November will have to deal with the bill no matter what. They either have to run with it, or run from it. It’s not yet clear which option is the best one.

Sunday talk show highlights, March 14, 2010

March 15, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press, This Week, and State of the Union.

As I pointed out last Sunday, when the White House wants a certain message out there, one of their representatives headline Meet The Press and This Week. Last week it was Health & Human Services Secreteary Kathleen Sebelius. This week it was Obama’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod – who also headlined State of the Union.

Axelrod certainly had his talking points down, and his most repeated phrase was that the American people ”deserves an up or down vote on health care”, a line repeated on This Week by former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn.

On Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw – the man with the deepest voice in television news – was sitting in for David Gregory. Brokaw started the interview with Axelrod by laying out the road ahead for passing health care reform:

First, the House will be voting on the Senate bill, which was approved in December.

The House will then also vote on a package of changes via reconciliation. That’s a procedure that they can get passed on a majority vote mostly to do with budget items.

The president then would sign the Senate health bill if it gets passed.

The Senate passes the House’s package of changes from reconciliation with a simple majority vote.

And then the president would sign the reconciliation bill.

In his interview with Karl Rove, Brokaw asked the following question on Rove’s perception of media bias:

You describe a Washington Post columnist as “snarky.” You complain kind of consistently–and people in your position have done this for a long, long time–about the press coverage. You’re now at Fox News. Do you think that Fox News is fair to President Obama?

Mr. Rove answered:

I think they–on the news side, absolutely. I think they’ve got first-rate individuals at the White House who do their job in as an objective, fair and balanced way.  Yeah, absolutely.

On a related topic, Brokaw’s discussion with New York Times’ columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman focused on the phenomenon of so-called ”information cocoons”:

MR. BROKAW:  Let’s talk about this country and what’s going on here right now. You said to me over the weekend that you’re going to be spending more time looking at America because there’s so much going on at this time. Let’s share with our audience what David had to say recently about the political climate. “In a sensible country, Obama would be able to clearly define [his modern brand of moderate progressivism] without fear of offending the people he needs to get legislation passed. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which many people live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect.” Has the political culture been hijacked by the mechanics of the information technology?

MR. BROOKS: Well, I do think everything–everybody gets to pick their own reality these days. The–a lot of liberals think Obama’s been very weak and he’s not forceful enough. I think he’s been amazingly tenacious on Afghanistan, on health care, on education. Pretty tough guy, I think. A lot of conservatives think he’s a socialist, trying to turn us into Sweden. Give me a break! Is that what this health care is about? But people like that because they want all differences to be 180 degrees rather than 30 degrees. And so they get to pick that reality because it makes them feel good.

Brooks’ “information cocoons” can certainly be viewed as another product of The Opinionated Decade.

Switching shows, This Week was once again hosted by Jake Tapper, and he interviewed Senator Lindsey Graham (SC-R) after his interview with Axelrod. Commenting on that interview, Graham stated:

MR. GRAHAM: … The interview I just heard is spin, campaigning. I thought the campaigning was over. Are you trying to tell me and the American people that Scott Brown got elected campaigning against a Washington bill that really is just like the Massachusetts bill?

The American people are getting tired of this crap. No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we’re about to do in Washington. We didn’t cut Medicare — they didn’t cut Medicare when they passed the bill in Massachusetts. They didn’t raise $500 billion on the American people when they passed the bill in Massachusetts.

To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin. I’ve been in bipartisan deals, I was in the “gang of 14” to stop the Senate from blowing up when the Republicans wanted to change the rules and use the majority vote to get judges through.

If they do this, it’s going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter.

On a lighter note, Tapper hinted at the Massa-saga by stating that he couldn’t “promise any tickle fights” in the introduction of the Roundtable.

During the Roundtable discussion, Tapper posed the following question to George Will:

George, Congressman, former Congressman Ray LaHood, who is now the transportation secretary, but was a Republican member of Congress, he has an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune saying — talking about why, as a member of the House, he would have voted for this bill, because this bill reduces the deficit and also brings down health care costs, and it will make insurance more affordable. Do you believe he would have voted for it as a Republican congressman?

Will responded:

Not a bit. It reduces the deficit because you have ten years of taxes and six years of benefits and other accounting gimmicks. You have said a moment ago essentially what Mr. Axelrod said there, which is, gosh, the American people like elements of this bill so let’s pass this bill. I like sauerkraut and I like ice cream. I don’t like sauerkraut ice cream. When you put this mish-mash together — the public has looked at it. Now, Nancy Pelosi said this week, we have to pass this bill so we can find out what’s in it. I think the American people already know what’s in it.

Anita Dunn and Jake Tapper responded to the sauerkraut ice cream comment:

DUNN: I’m not actually sure you ever tried sauerkraut ice cream and I’m not sure anybody has.

TAPPER: It is quite scrumptious.

DUNN: It could be very good.

One last thing stood out on This Week. It was on the topic of the so-called palace intrigue in the White House:

TAPPER: Speaking of the process argument, in the last few weeks, this town has been obsessed with this palace intrigue story of whether or not the fact that the bill has had such troubles getting passed, is the fault of the president’s advisers, whether David Axelrod, who was here earlier, or White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In fact, Rahm, if you look at the covers of the New York Times magazine and the New Republic, he is quite the cover boy. And Anita, having worked with these two men, Axelrod portrayed as something of the president’s liberal conscience, Emanuel portrayed as the pragmatic deal maker. Is this story of in-fighting and palace intrigue, is it fair?

DUNN: It’s a very overblown story. Are there disagreements among the president’s advisers? Of course. They’re human beings and everybody brings different things to the table.

But you know, David and Rahm, who are very old friends, are kind of like the Oscar and Felix of the White House. Right? They are different stylistically, but they’re not all that different when it comes to their approach. And where they are totally united is in their commitment to the president and what he wants to get done. So I think these stories, you know, when things — when White Houses hit a rough patch in this town, people go from being smart to being stupid in about a nanosecond. And I think that’s kind of where we are right now. I’ll put myself in the realms of the stupid right now, but the reality is that I think this is one of the more overblown stories you’re going to see.

ABC News’ Cokie Roberts joined in:

ROBERTS: You have White House intrigue stories when things are going badly. When things are going well, it’s a well-oiled machine and everything is, you know, and everyone is behaving well and all that. When things start to fall apart, you get these stories.

On State of the Union, host Candy Crawley’s interview with David Axelrod was followed by an interview with House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-R). The majority of the interview focused on health care, and the essentials of Boehner’s approach are layed out in the following exchange:

CROWLEY: What’s the Republican role now on the House side? What is there left for you all to do?

BOEHNER: I’m doing everything I can to prevent this bill from becoming law. Plain and simple. We have offered our ideas.

CROWLEY: And what do you do?

BOEHNER: We’ve asked the president to sit down and work with us. They have refused all the way through the process. And–

CROWLEY: You had the summit.

BOEHNER: Oh, they had the summit. We offered our ideas.

CROWLEY: And he incorporated some, did he not?

BOEHNER: That — and — and took a couple of Republican bread crumbs and put them on top of their 2,700 page bill. That’s not good enough. And so while — what I’m doing is working with my colleagues to keep the American people engaged in this fight. I don’t have enough votes on my side of the aisle to stop the bill. But I, along with a majority of the American people who are opposed to this, can stop this bill. And we’re going to do everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible to pass the bill.

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Unlike most other Sunday’s, there weren’t many rhetorical flourishes to speak of (well, Boehner’s “Republican bread crumbs” was actually kind of good). However, George Will once again pulled one out of the hat:

You have said a moment ago essentially what Mr. Axelrod said there, which is, gosh, the American people like elements of this bill so let’s pass this bill. I like sauerkraut and I like ice cream. I don’t like sauerkraut ice cream.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

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