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What’s Behind the President’s Health Care Summit?

What’s Behind the President’s Health Care Summit?

President Barack Obama’s February 25 health care summit, where he will appear on TV with Republican leaders, has been hailed and assailed as yet another gesture towards bipartisanship. But the summit is really a delaying tactic. It’s a decoy, something shiny to keep the chattering classes entertained while Congressional Democrats wheel and deal furiously behind the scenes.

At this point, there are two ways forward, and neither of them require Republican support. The first option is for the House to pass the Senate health care bill as written—but with the understanding that the Senate will later fix certain contentious parts of the bill through reconciliation. The second option is for the Senate to pass the reconciliation fix first and the House to pass the bill later.

Someone has to go first

Art Levine of Working In These Times diagnoses a severe case of paralysis on the left: Nancy Pelosi is willing to entertain the first option, but labor leaders like Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, want the Senate to go first because they don’t trust the Senate to fix the bill later. Nobody wants to go first, but somebody has to. If neither the House nor the Senate takes the initiative, reform will fail by default and Americans will continue to suffer.

If the Democrats are going to attempt reconciliation, they need a plan to steer the legislation through the Senate. While everyone else is talking about the summit, procedural experts are probably huddling with leadership, nailing down the details.

Obama’s ‘Waterloo’

Everyone knows that Obama isn’t going to pick up any Republican votes, summit or no summit. The House bill got 1 Republican vote, the Senate bill got 0. Quite simply, Republicans want health care reform to fail. No Republican president since Richard Nixon has attempted comprehensive health care reform. In opposition, Republicans have been intractably opposed to reform because they’re afraid the Democrats will take credit for it. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) famously said he wanted to “break” Obama by making health reform the president’s “Waterloo.”

Health care reform in the media

Meanwhile, as Monica Potts notes in TAPPED, the media seems to be bending over backwards to treat the Republican’s pro forma suggestions as serious proposals for reform, even though the Congressional Budget Office has already analyzed the plan and determined that it will leave millions uninsured without lowering costs. The health care bills as written are already chock full of Republican proposals, like eliminating the public option, easing restrictions on buying insurance across state lines, allowing people to band together in insurance-purchasing coops.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones worries that the upcoming summit will just give the Republicans more free airtime to spread falsehoods about “government controlled health care.”

Voices of the uninsured

This week, The Nation is publishing the stories of some of the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans: An uninsured woman who was diagnosed with throat cancer last month; a father with a severely disabled son who is about to hit is $5 million lifetime insurance benefit cap; a single mom on the verge of medical bankruptcy; and many others.

In other news

Dr. Gabor Maté, the official physician of Canada’s only supervised drug injection site, talks about the science of addiction and his new book with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!.

Todd A. Heywood reports in the Michigan Messenger that American Family Association of Michigan is doubling down in the dying days of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Not only do they want to ban gays from the military, they want to re-criminalize homosexuality.

 

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

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photo credit: thanks to ragesoss via flickr
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

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33 comments

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7:01AM PST on Feb 15, 2010

HOW MUCH DO THE "CEO'S" MAKE, HUH?
http://sickforprofit.com/ceos/
HERE IT IS AND IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY....ARE YOU GOING TO BORROW A CUP OF SUGAR FROM ANYONE OF THESE "NEIGHBORS"?
http://sickforprofit.com/ceos/

3:04PM PST on Feb 14, 2010

Obama has been shamed into doing this!! He just thought we were all going to be Sheep & just follow him. IMO he's a narcissist!!

6:18PM PST on Feb 13, 2010

Said in the Washington Examiner a YEAR AGO:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/QuinHillyer/Quin-Essential-Cases-Callous-Congress-just-doesnt-care--39673682.html

10:16AM PST on Feb 12, 2010

It is so amazing, the Republicans wanted this and wanted it televised now they are against it. Party of NO is a party of JERKS

6:11AM PST on Feb 12, 2010

Micheal left me a comment and I agree with him totally. I will be looking forward to this summit. I still feel that Medicare should be for everyone. Health Care for everyone!!!!

10:49PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

Single Payer, YES ! But remember the Republicans want to see another financial crisis then can ride in on a white hobby horse and privitize Social Security. The Market Place Works? Let's take a count, Housing (check), Banks (check), Health care (check). And remember a tax reduction is a net LOSS of revenue for the Govt. Doesn't matter if the Govt. spends or reduces taxes the net result is the same. New source of money? How about Value Added Tax? Am convinced it's the only way out of national debt along with some spending cuts... maybe closing some of the 150 military basis around the world would be a good start.

9:58PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

Just get it through. Watered down or not, it's better than what you've got.

9:02PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

I think this is a chance for Obama to show all his good stuff and for the Republicans to show they got nothing. Let's watch and see.

8:53PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

lol ty

8:50PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

The Dems never really had the 60 Senate votes required. Sen. Franken was not confirned until shortly before the August recess. Kennedy and Byrd were at death's door. Leiberman was never on board; heck, he CAMPAIGNED for McCain! Red State Dems stood back waiting for the public response. Yet the media warned ad nauseam of the "filibuster-proof majority" and "one-party govenment." We had that with Bush-Cheney; no one wants that! The GOP smeared the bills and promoted public fearsi

The Dems should comply with Rep. Boehner; start fresh with a simple statement: Medicare for All. The crowds will go wild. The insurers and Big Pharma had their chance, but that day is past.

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