Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Daily Strike-10/15/09-Health Care Question Marks

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I apologize again for my spottiness the past couple of days. And I have bad news: this will be the last entry until Monday morning. The Strike is off to celebrate a wedding in Minnesota. Leave us some comments.

HEALTH CARE: Now that all five committees of jurisdiction have passed health care bills, every days just seems to bring more confusion as to what the end game is going to be. Not only do we need to come up with a balanced bill in both chambers of Congress that can win 218 votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, but we have to rely on some, well, unreliable people to get it done. Take the case of Mike Ross, House Democrat from Arkansas. Ross led a revolt among Blue Dog Democrats on the Energy and Commerce committee against a public option with rates tied to Medicare, because he thought it would cause underpayments to rural hospitals. Now he says that he wants the bill to open Medicare as an option for everyone. This is just a text book intellectual inconsistency. There's Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who has not commented on one single policy contained in the bill, and has instead used football metaphors to describe how far the Senate is in the process of crafting legislation.

Then there is the so-called "Gang of Three." Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) are working behind closed doors to meld the Senate HELP and Finance Committee bills. No one quite knows what's going on behind these doors, and no one really understands the motivation of these three men. Reid and Dodd both face tough reelection fights next year, so they may be more concerned with their political future than crafting a good health care bill. And Baucus worked so hard to secure the support of Republican Olympia Snowe that he may be overly concerned with adhering to her demands. Basically, not only is this debate dealing with extraordinarily complicated policy measures, it also involves complex political actors with varying levels of intelligence and integrity.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President today was in New Orleans for the first time of his Presidency. He went to two town hall meetings to talk about rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina. The President was very well received, despite the fact that he has not acted thus far to expedite rebuilding efforts. The crowd booed when the President pointed out Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA). Jindal, as you recall, gave that awful rebuttal to Obama's address to Congress in February. Obama chose to defend Jindal, a major nihilistic stimulus skeptic. The President also gave a shout out to Rep. Joseph Cao, the only House Republican I could see voting yes on health reform.

THE HOUSE: It was a busy day in the House today. Members approved the conference report on the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill by a vote of 307-114. 63 Republicans voted yes, while 6 Democrats voted no. The bill includes a provision to allow Guantanamo Detainees to be tried in U.S. courts, which drew howls from Republican lawmakers. The conference report now goes to the Senate, where it will be approved presumably in the next 1 to 8 weeks or so, judging by how fast the Senate usually handles these things. For those of you keeping score at home, the House has passed 4 appropriations conference reports, while the Senate has approved to. All 12 of the appropriations bills must be approved before the continuing resolution expires on October 31st. The Senate still hasn't approved their own versions of four of these bills, so I expect we'll see yet another continuing resolution.

The House also approved the Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Extension. This bill extends authorization for a program that provides for recycled water systems, like for example, using somewhat dirty water obtained at a sewage treatment plant to water vegetation. I like it. The bill passed by a vote of 241-173. 6 Republicans voted yes and 10 Democrats voted no. The House will move next week to a solar energy bill, and a Coast Guart Authorization Act.

THE SENATE: The Senate took one vote today, approving the Energy and Water Development Appropriations c by a vote of 80-17. All no votes came from Republicans, except for Senators Bayh (IN) and McCaskill (MO). The bill now heads to President Obama's desk for his signature. The Senate will vote next week on a bill to prevent a pay cut to Medicare doctors.

That's just about it for today, see you Monday and have a great weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment