Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Chuck Grassley the Key to Health Care Reform?

Obama and his family are on Martha's Vineyard this week, and yesterday he announced that he will re-appoint Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. This morning Ted Kennedy passed away. The other big news this week has been that Michael Jackson's doctor is now being accused of manslaughter -- I think for oversubscribing certain painkillers or sleep medication.

Meanwhile, the debate about health care reform continues to dominate the news, and it does not seem that the Democrats have yet recovered momentum. A couple of perspectives from this morning's Post:
  1. Ruth Marcus (here) says that Chuck Grassley is the last hope for a bipartisan bill. Grassley is 75 years old and is nervous about a Republican primary challenger in his re-election bid next year, but he's been working on health care for a number of years and is also personally close to Max Baucus. Marcus says that Grassley is being pressured by Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl not to cooperate with the Democrats; however, he's got an independent streak and she seems to think he still might break ranks. I doubt it.

  2. Michael Gerson (here) emphasizes that Obama's problem is a lack of public support, and he says that this problem stems from most people being (generally) satisfied with the status of their health care: "Because there are vastly more people inside the current health-care system than outside of it, the majority tends to be risk-averse and suspicious of efforts that might benefit the minority at their expense." Gerson also says that seniors realize any cost-savings in the current system will likely come from cuts to Medicare, which makes them oppose reform. This point of analysis -- that seniors are against broad-based reform of the system -- is being made more and more often the past couple of weeks.

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