Friday, February 19, 2010

President to offer bill

NY Times says the President will offer a reform bill that is designed for budget reconciliation. The Times says Congressional Dems haven't signed on, so this seems to be the President saying here is what I want. The description of big ideas is the basic Senate bill with the President's additions, which are not laid out. There will finally actually be an Obamacare! The summit will be him saying this is what I want, and I am willing to push for reconciliation if you guys won't negotiate. What do you guys want? By the President offering a bill it does give him more ability to negotiate with Republicans if they are inclined to do so....but of course if he cuts a deal with them, he has to corral the Democratic votes. If he gains blue dogs in the House, he may well be losing liberals, etc. There is quite a bit of ideological diversity within the House Dem caucus.

My guess is that the one big, new item the President adds is medical malpractice reform far beyond the demonstrations in the Senate bill. That seems to the only route to a deal with Republicans. If the bill doesn't include that, he has concluded the Republicans will not negotiate no matter what and he has decided to use the summit as a means of demonstrating this and in turn pushing the Congressional Dems toward reconciliation.

In poker terms, this is all in for the President. In another sense, there is a song that once said 'freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.'

I am writing in the News and Observer on Sunday about the biggest idea that the summit needs to focus on: the individual mandate. Meaning the essence of opposition to reform bills has ebbed and flowed on different topics and aspects, but the most profound opposition seems to be against an individual mandate. The President will have to make the case.

Update: 5pm: Thoughts on reform today from Ezra Klein, Politicio on Reid and public option, J Cohn on same topic, Krugman saying Cali rate hikes show death spiral and what will happen en masse sans reform, Newsweek with predictions on the President's bill.

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