Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care: Could the Senate's Parliamentarian Take Center Stage?

This morning is the long-awaited Health Care Summit, and I've just watched a brief bit during which Obama, Charles Schumer and Jon Kyl spoke.

All three statements struck me as prepared and rehearsed - boo. Let's go John Adams at the Continental Congress-style and have you all actually discuss this dang thing.

Blair House is summit central.

I guess it's too much to expect spontaneity when the cameras are present, though there was an element of extemporaneity (?) when Obama attended the Republican caucus meeting at the end of January.

My prediction at the moment is that the White House/Democrats will not use reconciliation to pass the bill (or parts of it); I think there's too much push-back from the moderates and too many polls showing that only 30% of Americans support the bill (Ed Schulz was having a coniption last night about why the White House would push the parts supported by only 30% but not go to bat for the public option which has much greater support).

In this morning's Post, George Will (here) says that the Senate's "parliamentarian" would make the initial decision as to whether certain subjects are appropriately addressed by reconciliation -- but that then Vice President Biden would have the option of over-ruling the parliamentarian. Will is in no mood for Democratic-complaining:

The fiction that government is "paralyzed" by partisanship is regularly refuted. Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush reached across party lines in 1986, 1996 and 2001 to pass tax reform, welfare reform and No Child Left Behind, respectively. The $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program and the $862 billion stimulus were enacted with injudicious speed. Liberals are deeply disappointed with the public, which fails to fathom the excellence of their agenda. But their real complaint is with the government's structure. And with the nature of the politics this structure presupposes in a continental nation wary of government and replete with rival factions.

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