One of the big questions from yesterday was the amendment put up by Dem Senator Ben Nelson. He's a pro-lifer who has pledged to filibuster the final bill if it didn't contain sufficiently strong language to prevent federal funding of abortions. His amendment was voted down (which was completely unsurprising), so the question remains whether or not he'll follow through with his filibuster. If he does, the Dems will have to sway at least one Rep to their cause in the final vote. Don't hold your breath, though...he's still a Democrat, which means he's likely to either be bought off or simply cave to his leadership at the end of the day. We'll see.
An important detail is what this thing will actually cost. The Dems say it's around $900 billion, but the GOP says it's more like $2.5 trillion. If you want to know how the GOP gets its number, check it out here. The short version is that they consider the entire dynamic cost of the bill from when the benefits actually kick in; the Dems use budget trickery and a static understanding of the economics of the thing.
One interesting development from yesterday is that some in the Senate floated the idea that the House should just accept their bill as-is in order to avoid the conference committee. Needless to say, that didn't play real well in the House.
Probably the biggest news of yesterday came pretty late:
So, the Dems are dropping the public option in favor of an even bigger expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. Supposedly. Of course, this sets up a showdown with House Dems, of whom a significant chunk have said they'd refuse to pass anything less than a full public option. Once again, though, they're Democrats, which means their pledges mean little.
The broad outlines of the deal had been discussed for days and would include creating a new national health plan administered by the federal government that would offer insurance policies offered by private companies…
By Tuesday evening, the group was no longer considering opening Medicaid to people with incomes 150 percent above the poverty line. It faded as a realistic option amid concerns among moderates and many governors that it would put too much of a burden on state governments, which pick up a portion of the coverage costs.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who is still being wooed by Democrats, expressed strong skepticism toward another key element, the expansion of Medicare to people between 55 and 64. She said she was concerned the bill would rely too much on government to fill gaps in insurance coverage that the private sector should handle…
The Medicaid expansion was viewed as a trade-off for liberals who were disappointed that the public option was falling out of the bill. An expansion of Medicare is still under serious consideration because it’s easier to manage the costs by controlling who can “buy in” to the program.
Of course, the details have yet to be released, and will likely determine how much outrage there is on the Left because of this potential compromise.
Ah, and here we have a couple of applicable updates via Michelle Malkin:
You just can't count on elected Dems to stand for anything. Other than a lack of integrity or principles, I mean.
And then there’s this:
Reid said reports the government-run “public option” had been dropped were “not true.”
All talk, no maverick action.
The bottom line on DemCare is that any expansion of government control of the American health care system will almost certainly lead to the kind of disastrous single-payer system that is currently wreaking death and pain on citizens of places like Canada and Great Britain. America will become a place where the healthy cannibalize the sick to survive.
Anyway, the idea that Obama and the Dems will settle for even a partial victory right now -- just as long as it increases government control -- was confirmed recently by Dem Rep. John Conyers:
They're desperate to get something so they can claim the victory, no matter what the reality is. Even if it was a vastly watered down step that was passed now, it would still be another step down the road to government control, and ultimately that's bad.
He said White House chief of staff doesn’t care that much about the content of the legislation.
“That is essentially what Rahm Emanuel has said: Just give us anything and we will declare victory,” said Conyers. “Not only is it not a victory, but when it doesn’t work, guess who will come at him: the same guys that were saying let’s go along with anything… This is all my buddy Rahm Emanuel trying to get anything. But look the bill doesn’t go into effect for three years. Many of the people that we are trying to help will be dead by then.”
One interesting note from Philip Klein at American Spectator, pointing out the weakness of the GOP's stance and tactics:
That's an excellent point, and one that perfectly illustrates what's been wrong with the GOP for several years - they've fallen away from the core principles of freedom and individual responsibility. By standing on the protection of Medicare, they stood on the Leftist premise that Medicare was the right thing to do, thus eliminating their own best policy of individual responsibility.
I've been frustrated by the decision of Republicans to focus their attacks on the Senate health care bill on the fact that it would cut Medicare benefits. As I've noted before, it's philosophically incoherent for Republicans to claim that that they're against government-run health care while they sanctimoniously try to protect a massive existing government health care program from any sort of cuts. Preserving the third rail status of the program will only make it more difficult to cut it down the road to avert an entitlement crisis.
But the GOP strategy is looking even more problematic now that Democrats are talking about ditching the "public option" as currently structured, and replacing it with a plan that would, in part, lower Medicare eligibility age to 55. After spending the first week of debate offering amendment after amendment reinforcing the idea of Medicare as a sacred institution, will Republicans be able to pivot and suddenly argue that those aged 55 to 64 cannot have access to this awesome program? Is the new GOP position that the government should provide individuals with unlimited health care benefits once they reach age 65, but not the option to buy in if they're 55 to 64?
When you wander off the correct map, you're going to get lost in the wilderness. That's the problem the GOP has.
So, that's the latest. I'll continue to post updates as they occur. For the moment, you might just want to contact your Senators with your thoughts while there's still time. The vote could be coming in just a few days, and then we'll know a large piece of the future of America.
More coming soon.
There's my two cents.
Abortion = Viagra??
Amendments from today's debate
Co-pays vs. Co-insurance