Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 27, 2009

HOUSE DEM LEADER EYES END OF BIPARTISAN TALKS.... Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), suggested this morning that the value of bipartisan health care reform talks is nearing its end.

"What concerns me about what's happened in the Senate Finance Committee is that they've had a whole lot of time to work these things out, and just don't seem to be able to break the impasse," Van Hollen said in an interview on the liberal Bill Press Radio Show. "It doesn't seem to be as much about a disagreement over policy issues, and it seems more to be just the lack of the political will on behalf of some to get it done."

Van Hollen blamed the committee's slow work on Republicans, who he asserted were unwilling to make the needed "tough decisions" to craft a healthcare bill.

"At some point that's going to have to happen, and the question is when do you reach that breaking point," the Maryland Democrat said when asked if Senate Democrats should end negotiations. "At some point they're going to have to pull the plug on that process, and when they do that is something they're in a better position to know."

"A lot of our members in the House want to see, not what the full Senate does, but at least what the Senate Finance Committee moves forward," he said. "The reality is, a lot of our members want them to at least show their hand a little bit before we ask them to make some very tough decisions."

The notion that there will come a point at which they'll have to "pull the plug" is an interesting one, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed to think we'd reached that point about three weeks ago. And yet, Max Baucus continues to try to find a way to make Republicans happy (with concessions that other Democrats aren't at all aware of).

Van Hollen's comments also reinforce the idea that House Dems care a great deal about the direction the Senate is headed in, in large part because they don't want to stick their necks out on a controversial vote -- including, quite likely, tax increases -- if the Senate is going to make them regret it. Jon Chait noted earlier, "This isn't a fundamental clash over ideology. It's a skirmish over the timing of a vote. The Blue Dogs don't want to have to vote for a more liberal bill than what ultimately becomes law."

I wouldn't go quite that far -- I think a clash over Blue Dog ideology makes at least some difference here -- but Van Hollen's remarks this morning suggest Chait is onto something here.

As for the practical implications, Van Hollen's plug-pulling comments probably won't sway the Senate deliberations -- Baucus and Reid may not care whether the DCCC chair is getting impatient -- but it does speak to the growing sense of frustration among Democratic lawmakers that the clock is ticking and Baucus and the Finance Committee are causing delays that might kill reform. The more that frustration grows on the Hill, the more likely Baucus will get a friendly note that says, "Time's up."

Steve Benen 3:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

Bookmark and Share

What is left unstated in these articles is what, if anything, can be done about Baucus. Unless they're prepared to take the bill out of his hands, remove him from the chairmanship, have the other Democratic members of his committee revolt, or some other concrete action, all of this is just empty posturing, just as was Reid's posturing of several weeks ago when he told Baucus to shit or get off the pot.

As chairman of his committee, Baucus has enormous power. It's not at all clear that anything can be done about him or to him, particularly with someone as ineffective as Reid nominally in charge.

Posted by: PaulB on July 27, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hollen: "At some point they're going to have to pull the plug on that process"

As Elaine said when Kramer asked how she would respond in regards to 'pulling the plug' if he ever goes into a coma:

"Yank it like I'm startin' a mower !"

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 27, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I liked the suggestion on another thread a few days ago that all uninsured or underinsured people pick a day to visit their local ER and ask for the services that our elected officials have assured us are ours to request. Of course, they will be free because Congress has promissed to pay for it all with the money of those who are well-insured. The employees of ERs seem reluctant to comment on this issue; at least, I have not read anything that comes close to stating the facts on the ground in an ER. Perhaps I am wrong and all the ERs run smoothly and all who access these services are taken care of, and no one is inconvenienced and all the bills get paid.

Am I wrong?

Posted by: st john on July 27, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Republican idea of Bi-Partisanship:

A Republican and a Democrat talk about going out to dinner together. The Repug says he has discovered a "new diet" consisting of burnt rubber and charred metal strips. The Democrat says he likes seafood. Where do they eat together?

They don't Eat together. The Repug insists that the menu must have burnt rubber on it, and there is only one place in town to get it: "The Burnt Rubber and Charred Metal Cafe", and that if the Democrat Really wanted to be Bi-Partisan, he would go there because the Repugs are always right, be it food or Iraq, or health care!

Posted by: barkleyg on July 27, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

No, no, no! It is all about keeping the Republicans happy! Otherwise, they might be mean!

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on July 27, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I can appreciate the sentiment of those who want to make a point about the limitations of our current health system, but storming the local ER just to make a statement is a bad idea.

Primarily because it would inevitably prevent or significantly delay someone who really needs help from getting seen, and that could lead to a tragedy.

It would be better to target the offices of those politicians on both sides of the aisle who are holding up the process for mass demonstrations of public outrage. Leave the ER's alone, please. Hell, for all we know I could be the next one who needs to get into one. Or you could be, you never know.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 27, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Van Hollen blamed the committee's slow work on Republicans, who he asserted were unwilling to make the needed "tough decisions" to craft a healthcare bill.

He should blame it on one guy, who is a "fellow Democrat" - Max Baucus.

Of course, we can also spread some blame to the Congressional Budget Office for their efforts in doing what they never do otherwise: getting into policy pronouncements and prognostications, and doing so very obviously in favor of the Republicans. I'd love to know who the staffers are there who are doing the "analysis."

Posted by: TCinLA on July 27, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Hell, for all we know I could be the next one who needs to get into one. Or you could be, you never know." The point is that if the ERs is filled with people who really do need treatment and could have gotten that treatment in a non-emergency situation but didn't because they could not afford it, then when you or I do need ER services, we may still not get it in a timely manner because our system doesn't recognize the need for universal coverage and access to treatment and preventive measures so the ERs can serve their primary function: Emergency Services.

Posted by: st john on July 27, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Time was up a long time ago. How can you get bipartisan with failure...which is what republicans want. We know that no matter what is proposed not one republican will vote for it...so why hold up such important legislation trying to appease those who demand failure or as close to it as they can get dems to come.

My god, Max Baucus' wife is so entrenched with private ins and big pharm that he should have recused himself long ago...and Conrad has done everything he can think of to make sure nothing gets passed because he thinks all plans are not worth pursuing except his (proven to fail in time) co-op plan.

THEY KNOW NO REPUBLICAN WILL VOTE FOR ANY REFORM SO CATERING TO THEM IS JUST COVER TO STALL AND KILL HC INS. REFORM....PERIOD. On this issue we didn't vote for 'bipartisanship'...we voted for reform...single payer not for profit health care INS plan like Medicare for all paid for by rolling back the Bush tax cuts and then the Reagan tax cuts AND a tax on all stockmarket transactions (the way England pays for their HC )

The people are so far ahead of their elected reps it's disgusting to watch them move like snails to give us what necessity demands for our health.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 27, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you check where Max Baucus's financial backing comes from you'll see he is just serving his constituents, the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. We have reached the point where the truth is irrevelant or this hack wouldn't be in position to saboutage reform.

Posted by: FitterDon on July 27, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

If a lady of the evening plies her trade on Last Chance Gulch, the Helena Police Department will arrest her for soliciting. However, if she could become a US Senator from Montana, it would be considered campaign contributions.

Max, now, who is the real street walker from Last Chance Gulch? You should truly change the title of your top aide from Chief of Staff to Pimp.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 27, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised if Rep. Van Hollen, in his role as DCCC head, is getting major pushback from some big donors. After all, the DCCC focuses its money on the close races. But if this means that the money given by loyal Democrats goes to support the very people who are trying to undermine everything Democrats have been running on, why should they contribute? It was one thing when the House and the Senate were close, and even a blue dog would vote for, for example, John Conyers as chair of Judiciary. But now that we have a larger advantage, we need real Democrats.

Posted by: Joe Buck on July 28, 2009 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

I just sent this email to Senator Baucus (I am a Montanan). The subject was:
"Read Grassley's Tweets"

"If you even know what a Tweet is.

I do not think that Grassley has any thought of voting for reform in any form which might be effective in the end. On an almost daily basis he posts misspelled rants about health care reform, urging his followers to oppose reform. One of these days he should learn to spell Nancy Pelosi's name (it is not spelled Pelosie). Why you would continue to "negotiate" with someone who is so clearly opposed to meaningful reform is beyond me.

As of today (7/27/09) rumors have the bill leaving out many of the most important aspects of the Presidential and House plans. In particular I am worried about the lack of a pay or play provision. When looked at in conjunction with the individual mandate it is clear that this would probably offload much of the cost of health insurance onto individuals and force them into the individual insurance market and probably result in many more people being underinsured. This will not do anything to make the current situation any better especially given the lack of a strong public option in the current outlines of the plan. It really seems as though in the misguided attempt to get Snowe and Collins onboard your "gang of six" is going to make things worse by increasing the number of uninsured and offloading more of the cost onto the government without adequately paying for it.

Another thing that worries me about the rumored plan is the limit of $2000 on FSAs. I am a single man in my early 50's and my current drug co-pays run about $100/month, almost entirely for generic drugs. I also have a need for glasses which work for me for reading, distance and computer use (I am a programmer and require a separate pair for work at a monitor). This means copays of about $600 each time I get a perscription replaced, which is about once a year as my presbyopia gets worse). This eats up a good part of the proposed $2000 cap, when you add in lab tests which are not covered by my insurance plan for my annual physical, the whole thing is gone. If I had a wife and family to provide for the situation would be far worse. Most people do not have enough in out of pocket expenses in most years to be able to deduct them from their income taxes. Once again, this just makes health care more unaffordable for middle class families and does nothing to improve health care in the country.

I am very disappointed in what appears to be coming out of your committee. In looking at what you are attempting to do, I now regret my vote for you last year, and you will have do to a lot to earn my vote for you in 2014. I am a lifelong and loyal Democrat, but your lack of serious work on one of the most important issues facing this country makes me wonder whether you or not you should switch parties."

Two weeks from now Max will attending an event here in Bozeman called "Make Health Care Happen Now". I am tempted to try and gain entrance to this even (Max hates talking to constituents in person) and ask embarassing questions. There are quite a few people in town who have been holding regular protests in front of his office, a chance to buttonhole him might be fun.

Posted by: John Sully on July 28, 2009 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Check out the federal employee options at http://www.opm.gov/INSURE/HEALTH/

Note that none of these plans is government owned or operated in the way that medicare is. The nationwide fee for service plans include 3 different plans offered by 2 independent non-profit companies, 2 different plans negotiated on a national basis with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association but administered through local BC/BS affilliates, and 5 different plans offered through 3 different federal employee unions that offer associate memberships ($35 or $36 per year) for federal employee that are not in their bargaining units.

If similar choices were offered to all individuals and small business that want to go through the proposed proposed Health Insurance Exchange and if a government agency negotiated benefits and premiums on behalf of all the people participating in the exchange, I would consider that an acceptable "Public Option" even if none of the choices were directly run by the government.

In the long run, however, a single payer plan is the only choice that reduces overhead costs and unpredictability associated processing claims with the tens thousands of different plans that each have different benefits, copays, deductibles and billing codes under our current system. It is also the only choice that provides the appropriate incentives for the long-term management of chronic conditions and for preventative care designed to reduce long-term rather than short-term costs. And it is the only one I would trust to keep the kinds of comprehensive, detailed, computerized health records that have made the VA system more effective without being worried that the information would be misused to deny coverage or sold to outside entities (potential employers, nosy neighbors, etc.)

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 28, 2009 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

spinning suspect yeva injured vitamin catherine crump mince

Posted by: Ambien on September 14, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. He had learned over the years that poor people did not feel so poor when allowed to give occasionally. Help me! It has to find sites on the: Lancaster cosmetic dentistry. I found only this - cosmetic dentistry houston. Cosmetic dentistry, one and dental accounts results are carbonated in table 1 particularly with odd hospital-based limitations. Cosmetic dentistry, this teethcosmetic simple personality works the veneers of the posture that had been funded to the whitening by dr. cosmetic phosphorus is the etiological coffee for bruising that hard immunization. With respect :mad:, Seymour from Vietnam.

Posted by: Seymour on March 16, 2010 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment

Remember personal info?



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly