You’ve Got to Hand it to Them: Obama, Pelosi and Reid

Watching the proceedings in the House of Representatives tonight, I came away with an appreciation of just how strong the Democratic leadership is.  We all knew that Barack Obama had discipline in the way his presidential campaign never faltered.  He kept his eye on the prize and didn’t sweat the small stuff.  But the first year in office raised questions about how much political capital he had lost because of the economic downturn and the unpopularity of the government’s response.  Republicans refused to break ranks.  Democrats were split.  Then came Scott Brown.  How much would the President be able to accomplish? 

The victory on major health care legislation shows incredible tenacity and perseverance in the face of obstacles.  The President came through.  His political power is nothing short of remarkable.

Watching Speaker Pelosi during the past week, she seemed certain that she would have the votes to pass controversial legislation, despite all contrary claims.  The brinksmanship of seeking votes up until the last moments, but having the confidence in her membership to move forward towards a vote, was noteworthy.  She was torn between Progressives seeking Single Payer or Public Option, such as Dennis Kucinich on one end of the spectrum, and conservatives fighting for anti-abortion language, like Bart Stupak on the other.  Without Republican help, Pelosi had to work for the vote of every member of her caucus.  When the dust settles and reform seems like just the next logical step in good government, Pelosi’s achievement will still be regarded as historic.

Nevada’s Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, also managed a complicated mix of conservative and moderate Democrats.  The legislation he passed in the Senate December 24, 2009, ended up being the basis for the final comprehensive program.  Senator Reid spoke softly, but he carried his weight.  There was little overt drama, but he was ambitious and his membership came through despite deep differences.

If the President and his party can do as good a job explaining the legislation now that it has been finally decided on and passed, as they did reaching a majority vote, the American people may come to understand it in a favorable light.

The fact that Democrats were able to achieve comprehensive reform — reform that addresses goals of providing insurance to the uninsured and lays a groundwork for cost reform — without votes from the Republican party is astonishing.  The Republicans did contribute ideas to the debate and legislation of the past year, but not a single vote in the final count.  How much of this was political and how much was ideological will take a while to discover.  But it certainly caused Democrats to come together under strong leadership, to accomplish their agenda. 

The party can now move forward on its agenda with far more confidence and authority.

And thank you, C-Span, for providing the public unfiltered accounts of political process.

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216 comments

Margaret W.
Margaret W9 years ago

Roger I can add the European VAT tax is in addition to an income tax not a substitute for it. So you have both in those countries.

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Roger H.
.9 years ago

Julia,
"Yale professor Michael J. Graetz estimates that a VAT of 10 to 14 percent would actually exempt approx. 90% of households from federal income tax. (Montgomery)"
The VAT tax now being considered is in addition to our current income tax. The only reason people would be exempt from income tax is if they are currently among the 50% of Americans that pay no federal income tax and the rest of us taxpayers support when we pay our taxes. It is correct that the initial VAT tax rate will be lower than the 20 or 25% that many financial experts foresee, but the rate of a VAT tax is very easy to adjust upward because it is a hidden tax that consumers only see as a large increase in the base cost of goods and services. It doesn't show up as a sales tax and is included in the base price so that nobody knows what the VAT tax rate actually is but congress and the White House. It is basically a legalized way for the government to pickpocket the consumer. It gives congress access to lots of money to allow spending to get even more out of hand than it is now.
The VAT tax was implemented in Europe, but was to replace the income tax. This is not the case with the Vat tax being proposed for the US.
My point about Congresses health insurance isn't that they would be uninsured, but that they do not want the health insurance that we got in the new law. They want their previous insurance back and are trying to figure out how they can do it without losing votes in November.

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Margaret W.
Margaret W9 years ago

50 % of households don't pay tax now. This guy thinks another 40% will not pay. However from living in Ireland the VAT tax does change the cost of goods and services. There it is applied to things like fees - architects, lawyers, accountants, consultants, IT providers etc.. It will drive the company's costs up and will be hidden as it will be buried in increased expenses leading to increased costs of goods and services for everyone. Not sure increasing the costs of goods and services as opposed to a graduated tax is a step forward. It is however hidden from view so much easier for our slippery politicians to enact and hide from open view.
I know we dealt with the 25% VAT issue in Ireland by just buying as many services such as the above from service providers outside of Ireland. Again not sure the further movement of US employment offshore is a step forward either. However, I am not really expecting the VAT tax to get much traction as it would probably have to apply to lobbyists!

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Julia C.
Julia C9 years ago

Hi Roger H. :)

Re: VAT - You stated "tax would add 20% to the cost of all goods and services and would be in addition to your income taxes and other taxes". From the article you cited, under sub-heading A VAT's Bottom Line:

Yale professor Michael J. Graetz estimates that a VAT of 10 to 14 percent would actually exempt approx. 90% of households from federal income tax. (Montgomery)

Re: Health Care - You stated, "I read the article you listed and it basically confirms what I was saying in my previous post. Congress did lose their government insurance and they will have to use the insurance exchanges set up in the new law." You might want to read the entire article. Near the end, it states:

"Does the omission actually mean that members of Congress and their staff will be uninsured because Senator Grassley's date never made it into the final draft?
In a word, no. No judge would ever interpret that Congress ever intended for that to happen...would obviously see the lack of a date as...a mistake...Congress would almost certainly fix it...a very common procedure in Congress". (Maiman)

Sources:

Maiman, Bruce. "Did Congress really eliminate its own health care benefits? Um, no."
http://www.examiner.com/x-15870-Populist-Examiner~y2010m4d14-Publications-moving-to-eliminate-anonymous-online-comments

Montgomery, Lori. "Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look".
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/26/AR20090526029

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Roger H.
.9 years ago

Julia,
I read the article you listed and it basically confirms what I was saying in my previous post. Congress did lose their government insurance and they will have to use the insurance exchanges set up in the new law.
The article about the VAT tax was in the Washington Post and I was using a 20% rate as an average of what was quoted in the article. It could be as high as 25% according to some experts.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/26/AR2009052602909.html

The figure for the Dr shortage can be found at many medical and news web sites. This is one of them.

http://industry.bnet.com/healthcare/10002427/nurse-strikes-could-be-more-dangerous-to-patients-because-of-reform/

The full text of the health care law is found here:

http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=labvirus.wordpress.com&url=http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3590/text&sref=http://labvirus.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/full-text-of-hr3590-the-new-healthcare-reform-law-hr4872-its-2nd-half/
It takes quite a while to read it all, but if you do, you will find all the things I mentioned in my previous post. I did take the time to read it, which even our own leaders in Congress did not.

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Margaret W.
Margaret W9 years ago

Julia, I was responding to the assumptions that I must be a person who watches FOX TV etc..
In terms of expense of the US medical system I can't give you a URL but I can tell you I worked at a senior level at an international reinsurer of medical. We reinsured medical in Asia, Europe, South America and the US. I can tell you that medical premiums in the US were by far the most expensive - primarily due to the drugs and technology that are more widely used here than anywhere else. I guess it is possible there is a more expensive system in Africa but I doubt it. And to be very technical Sao Paula Brazil medical costs approach US in certain areas. But that said I really don't think most people disagree that we have a very costly system. In terms of whether there is no real cost containment in this legislation I heard Obama on TV say himself - this is just a start - now we have to deal with costs. But that is going to be the really hard part and I don't see anything happening in that regard. As to financing of the expansion it is mostly spending cuts in things like medicare and new taxes that can be undone as soon as a new Congress gets in place. There is a NY Times article from Sat April 3 (page A11) that details how this law is to be funded. I dont see anything in this legislation that tackles the actual high cost of medical care - things like tort reform, lower priced drugs, fewer drugs, less testing, etc .

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Julia C.
Julia C9 years ago

To Margaret W. :)

In response to your statement addressed to Julia and Sue:

"Dismissing those that disagree with you using personal insults is not debate or dialogue. You are just not listening."

Did I miss something? Please explain exactly how, by asking a simple question, I personally insulted you...Do you see something in my post that I don't see? As for not listening, I'm still "listening" for your answer to my question. :)

I'd also be very interested to know where you found the information to prove your claims:

"But bottom line this legislation is fiscally irresponsible. It added 30 million folks into the most expensive medical system in the world with no real idea as to how it is going to be financed and with absolutely no effort to control the costs"

Please provide the URL of your source. I'd be happy to read that, for myself. I've heard this claim and, if this is true, I certainly would like to know it. However, I need some way to verify it. :)

In closing, I'd just like to say that I certainly don't mean any disrespect and have no intention of insulting you, or anyone else, for that matter...ever, in any way, whatsoever. I simply ask for clarification and reliable sources when I don't understand, or agree with, someone's point of view. You are exactly right, that dismissing those that disagree is not debate or dialog. That's exactly why I ask questions. If I prefer to dismiss something, I don't take the time to respond. :)

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Julia C.
Julia C9 years ago

To Roger H. :)

Regarding: "It seems that they didn't realize there was w provision in the bill that does away with the health care plan that members of Congress had and forces them to follow the provisions of the new health care law."

Please read this article on examiner.com:

"Did Congress really eliminate its own health care benefits? Um, no."
by Bruce Maiman, Populist Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/x-15870-Populist-Examiner~y2010m4d14-Publications-moving-to-eliminate-anonymous-online-comments.

Regarding: "If you actually read the new law, there are many things in it that must be fixed before the full law is implemented in 2014 and all the unintended consequences show up"

Please provide the exact URL you used to read the law, to find out the things you listed, and I will be happy to do so. The "consequences" you mentioned are interesting to me and I would be happy to know exactly where (in the new law) you found this information, as well as the other things you mentioned.

One other thing you might want to read on snopes.com: http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/hr615.asp . (It has a familiar ring to it, regarding the info you mentioned.)

I will always be happy to read anything you suggest, given you provide the source. Thanks! :)

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Sue D.
Susan L9 years ago

Another two things: The health care that our Congress is/was using... government run, the same thing people SAY they don't want. There is a very interesting poll from CBS & NYTimes that gives info on Tea Party views, beliefs, political affiliations and much more. Also compares them with the overall average American's views. Like America, there is a lot of mix in whole.

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Sue D.
Susan L9 years ago

Margaret, my comment was NOT intended to be a personal insult, sorry if you took it that way or it sounded as such. It was directed more as a reply to those that DO fall into that category. I am sorry, I do not want to be like the fanatics that I have listened to on another site but they were one or all of those categories. Anyway, Roger - I am not saying that anything you said is not true, my point, like many others is that 'it is a start' As this goes into effect over the next few years, there will be opportunity to fix and change what needs done. There have been far too many un-truths circulated about this bill and that is what I have a problem with. Originally, yes, the majority of Americans wanted Health Care Reform, and most wanted a public option. The public option didn't happen because of a few Dem. and EVERY Republican, had something they didn't like (No! to compromise). So, the Dems gave the majority much of what has previously been proposed by Repubs and also their own input while also trying to please the 'pro lifers'. The public option? well, it went too, because it just couldn't pass in this obstructive atmosphere. Am I too concerned that our members of Congress might have to get the same thing as every other American? NO. They had the BEST coverage, plus care in DC that they could go to for anything they wanted. (They were supposed to pay a small annual (?) fee, but most didn't.) So, now maybe they will have the incentive to make it right.

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