Saturday, July 18, 2009

Democrats Getting Nervous About Health Care Reform

An article in this morning's Times (here) says that Congressional Democrats are getting more and more nervous about the health care legislation that's wending its way through various House and Senate committees.

The article cites to three causes of concern:

1. The head of the CBO (Douglas Elmendorf) testified on Thursday that one form of the legislation (the House bill, I think) won't slow growth in health care spending.

On yesterday's Gabfest, John Dickerson pointed out that Elmendorf's statements are particularly troubling for the Administration because they go to the basic premise of Obama's call for reform: that fixing the health system can lead to a reduction in the federal budget deficit.

2. It's becoming increasingly clear that the August deadline for passage of House and Senate bills cannot be met. The Republicans -- particularly Mitch McConnell -- are arguing that the too-quickly-passed stimulus legislation demonstrates the need to slow down and get things right.

Notwithstanding McConnell's protestations, Obama assumes (rightly, I think) that the longer legislation is delayed, the stronger the Republicans become.

3. Individual Democrats are concerned about the details of the legislation. One piece that's now causing particular heartache is the proposal to tax employers not providing health benefits a surtax of up to 8% of wages. Whether there'll be a public option also continues to be a point of contention.

21 freshman House Democrats sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi this week raising their concern about the impact of the legislation on small businesses.

258. Did Tom Perriello join the letter? Where does he stand on the various reform options?

Perriello was on Morning Joe this past week talking about the cap and trade legislation, and I thought he did fantastic.

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